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Congo warlord, Jean-Pierre Bemba’s conviction overturned

Congolese rebel warlord and Democratic Republic of Congo Vice President Jean -Pierre Bemba attends a court session. He was acquitted Friday (AFP PHOTO)

BBC: The International Criminal Court (ICC) has overturned the conviction for war crimes and crimes against humanity of former Democratic Republic of Congo Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba.

Bemba was found guilty in 2016 of crimes committed in the neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR) in 2002-2003.

He was accused of failing to stop his rebels from killing and raping people.

But a judge has now said he cannot be held responsible for their actions.

“The Appeals Chamber in this instant reverses the conviction against Mr Bemba… and in relation to the remaining criminal acts it enters an acquittal,” Judge Van den Wyngaert said.

Christine Van den Wijngaert also said the judges in the 2016 case had failed to take into account his attempts to stop the crimes once he was made aware they were taking place, news agency Reuters reported.

The conviction had marked several milestones. It was the first time ICC had focused on rape as a weapon of war, and the first time a suspect had been convicted for crimes committed by others under his command.

Friday’s decision was greeted by cheers from his supporters in the gallery. However, Bemba will remain in prison pending a contempt case appeal, Reuters said.

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