Bemba ICC case: Judges due to deliver appeal verdict

Bemba ICC case: Judges due to deliver appeal verdict

Jean-Pierre Bemba was on Friday acquited of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Bemba, a former vice-president of DR Congo, was found guilty of war crimes committed in the neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR) in 2002-2003 by the International Criminal Court.

The case saw the heavy-set, imposing former leader - nicknamed "Miniature Mobutu" - convicted for his role in a five-month reign of terror.

Bemba, a former Congolese senator and vice-president, was the commander of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo when he was asked in 2002 and 2003 to send troops by President Ange-Felix Patasse in neighbouring Central African Republic, or auto. "Entire families were victimised".

Bemba ICC case: Judges due to deliver appeal verdict

It added that the Trial Chamber made serious errors in its assessment of whether Mr. Bemba took all necessary and reasonable measures to prevent, repress or punish the commission by his subordinates of the other crimes within the scope of the case.

The trial was the first before the ICC to focus on sexual violence as a weapon of war. The conviction was based on the principle of command responsibility.

But the two dissenting judges wrote that the majority had used the wrong standards for review and that its findings were, therefore, deeply flawed.

Bemba has been in custody at the ICC for almost a decade after authorities in Belgium arrested him there in 2008 and sent him to The Hague. His sentence is the longest of any individual convicted by the ICC so far.

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The ICC, headquartered in the Netherlands, in 2016 convicted Bemba for the war crimes after a six-year trial, saying he knew about the war crimes.

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

Bemba's acquittal is also a blow to Congo's President Joseph Kabila.

Frustration is rising in Congo against Kabila as the presidential election has been delayed since late 2016. He was captured and transferred to the court while living in exile in Brussels in July 2008.

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Prosecutors, meanwhile, have appealed his sentence, urging judges to raise it to 25 years.

He lost a separate appeal against that bribery conviction.

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