Published: Tue, June 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

ICC to deliver appeals ruling in former Congo VP conviction

ICC to deliver appeals ruling in former Congo VP conviction

Dissenting judges Sanji Mmasenono Monageng and Piotr Hofmanski said all the criminal acts for which Bemba was convicted fell within the scope of the ICCC case and they believe the trial chamber did not err when considering Bemba's actions once he learned of the crimes.

The trial two years ago of the court in The Hague considered the guerrilla leader guilty of the aforementioned crimes during actions of his militia, the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo (MLC), between October 2002 and March 2003.

The court ruled he could not be held responsible for crimes carried out by troops under his control. Bemba also was the first person convicted by the court based on command responsibility. However, Bemba will remain in prison pending a contempt case appeal, Reuters said.

Congolese rebel warlord and Democratic Republic of Congo Vice President Jean -Pierre Bemba attends a court session.

Friday's decision was greeted by cheers from his supporters in the gallery.

Trial judges were also wrong in their finding that Bemba could in fact prevent crimes being committed by his MLC troops, they determined.

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Van den Wyngaert said Bemba would not immediately be released because a separate panel of ICC judges is still considering what sentence he should be given in a conviction for interfering with witnesses in his trial.

Bemba had sent his militia, the Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC), into the vehicle in October 2002 to quash a coup against the then president, Ange-Felix Patasse.

However, appeal Judge Van den Wyngaert said the judges in the original case had "ignored significant testimonial evidence that Bemba's ability to investigate and punish crimes in auto was limited".

Karine Bonneau of the International Federation for Human Rights said the decision was devastating for an estimated 5,000 victims of troops under Bemba who were awaiting the ruling.

He said Bemba would probably go to Belgium to meet with his family there before returning to Congo after he is released.

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

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