The International Criminal Court (ICC) has ordered the interim release “under specific conditions” of Jean-Pierre Bemba, the ex-vice president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, after his acquittal last week on war crimes charges.
Juries enforced conditions on Bemba’s release, including that he not make public statements on the case or contact witnesses.
Bemba’s defence lawyers argued at a hearing on Tuesday that he was “not a flight risk” and that “there is no legal or objective justification to separate Mr Bemba from his family for one day longer.”
His lawyer Peter Haynes told journalists that the rebel commander-turned-politician planned to travel to Brussels, Belgium, to be reunited with his family who live there.
Bemba was the highest-ranking politician sentenced by the permanent war crimes court, and his case had been seen as creating an example that political and military officials may be held accountable for the actions of troops under their command.
In what was described as a ground-breaking ruling, Bemba was punished to 18 years in prison in June 2016 for five counts of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by his private army during a five-month rampage in the neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR).
Presiding judge Christine Van den Wijngaert said on Friday that Bemba could not be held responsible for atrocities carried out by troops under his control in the CAR, and that trial judges had failed to consider the efforts he made to stop crimes once he became aware of them.
Author: Staff Writer