ICC orders release of Congolese ex-vice president
© WikiMedia (Nico Colombant, VOA news)

ICC orders release of Congolese ex-vice president

The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Tuesday decided [judgment, PDF] to release Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo [BBC profile], the former vice-president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

While Bemba’s conviction [press release] of crimes against the administration of justice still stands, the court found it improper to detain him when he already served most of the maximum sentence. The court said, “Taking into account all relevant factors and the circumstances of the case as a whole, the Chamber considers it disproportionate to further detain Mr Bemba merely to ensure his appearance for sentencing.”

The court does require Bemba to comply with the following conditions: complying with all orders issued by the court, providing his address and contact information to the court, alerting the court of overnight travel, not contacting any witnesses in the case, and not discussing the case publicly.

The ICC acquitted [press release] Bemba on appeal on Friday of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The complaints alleged that Bemba was criminally responsible for murder, rape, and pillaging committed by his troops in the Central African Republic. On appeal, the court decided [JURIST report] that the crimes of which Bemba was convicted were outside the scope of the charges. The appeals court also found that the lower court did not take into account the limitations Bemba faced when monitoring troops that were stationed in another country.