Bemba ICC case: Judges due to deliver appeal verdict

  • Bemba ICC case: Judges due to deliver appeal verdict

Bemba ICC case: Judges due to deliver appeal verdict

Democratic Republic of Congo warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba has successfully overturned his landmark conviction.

Mr Bemba has already spent almost a decade in the ICC's detention centre in The Hague. They also determined that it is wrong to assume that he could prevent the Commission of crimes.

But the year before, when he was a rebel leader, Bemba is accused of failing to stop his private army - known as the MLC - from waging a campaign of rape, murder and pillage against civilians in neighbouring Central African Republic.

"Mr Bemba can not be held criminally responsible for the crimes committed by MLC troops during the Central African Republic operation", she said, reading the ruling of a 5-judge appeal panel.

Mr. Bemba will, however, remain in detention on account of a different case in which he has been convicted of offences against the administration of justice, pending a decision of Trial Chamber VII, within the ICC. Judge Christine Van den Wyngaert, Presiding Judge in this appeal, read a summary of the Judgment during a public hearing.

In a separate trial, Bemba was sentenced in March 2017 to one year in jail and fined 300,000 euros ($350,000) for bribing witnesses during his main war crimes trial.

Bemba was one of only four people convicted by the permanent war crimes court in its 16 years of operation, and the highest ranking among them. Bemba's efforts to stop the crimes "extinguished his responsibility in full".

Solomon Sacco, head of Amnesty International's global justice team, said "the decision will be felt as a huge blow for the many victims of the "war against women" waged in the Central African Republic through a horrifying campaign of rape and sexual violence".

"5229 survivors of Bemba's atrocities participated in the ICC proceedings - for these courageous individuals, as well as thousands of other victims in auto, the pursuit of truth, justice and reparations will continue".

"Twenty years after its creation, has the ICC just scuttled itself?" she said in a statement.

Congo government spokesman Lambert Mende said that Bemba had the right to return home if released, Reuters reported.

In 2006, he lost a presidential run-off against young Joseph Kabila, son of the late leader.