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ICC Acquits Former Congolese Vp Jean Pierre Bemba Of War Crimes

By Published June 13, 2018

The International Criminal Court has acquitted Congolese former-vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba of war crimes charges and ordered his immediate release.

In the court order issued on Tuesday, Bemba will be freed in neighbouring Belgium, where his family resides.

The 55 year old has been in the International Criminal Court (ICC) detention since his arrest in 2008, he was convicted in 2016 of crimes against humanity and sentenced to 18 years in prison but that conviction was overturned on appeal last Friday in a major setback for prosecutors.

Appeals judges said they could not pin responsibility on the Democratic Republic of Congo opposition leader for the killing and raping of civilians by soldiers under his command.

He was the highest-ranking official among only four people who had successfully been prosecuted at the international war crimes court since it was set up in 2002.

Bemba is also facing a separate charge for witness tampering during the trial, which could result in a maximum five-year jail term.

The charge for tampering was brought in November 2013 and prosecutors said that Bemba should remain in custody until a final sentence is issued in that case.

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