General News

ICC judges order DRC Bemba's interim release

Date: Jun 13, 2018

International judges Tuesday ordered the interim release "under specific conditions" of former Congolese Vice President, Jean-Pierre Bemba, who was acquitted last week of war crimes after a decade behind bars.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) ordered the interim release under specific conditions for Bemba," the Hague-based tribunal said in a statement. "Taking into account all relevant factors and the circumstances of the case as a whole, the Trial Chamber considers that the legal requirements for continued detention are not met," the court said.

The heavy-set Congolese politician was acquitted on appeal on Friday by the Hague-based court, which said he could not be held criminally liable for crimes committed by his troops in the Central African Republic in 2002-2003.

The surprise decision came after Bemba, 55, had been sentenced unanimously to 18 years in 2016 by ICC trial judges after a decade behind bars following his arrest in Belgium. 

Bemba's interim release relates to a separate case in which he was handed one year in jail and fined $350 000 in 2017 for bribing witnesses during his main war crimes trial. 

He lost an appeal against that sentence and the ICC is yet to decide on a new jail term, which carries a maximum of five years. Sentencing is due on July 4. 

Bemba's lawyer, Peter Haynes, said his client planned to return to Brussels to be united with his wife and five children.





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