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ICC sentences DRC's Jean Pierre Bemba for witness tampering

ICC sentences DRC's Jean Pierre Bemba for witness tampering

Democratic Republic Of Congo

The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday sentenced DRC’s former vice president, Jean Pierre Bemba to a 300,000 Euro fine and a 12 month sentence for witness tampering.

Bemba’s sentence was however reduced to zero due to time served.

“Future accused persons can look at Mr. Bemba’s conviction as a cautionary example as to what consequences obstructing the administration of justice can have,” said Judge Bertram Schmitt.

Future accused persons can look at Mr. Bemba’s conviction as a cautionary example as to what consequences obstructing the administration of justice can have.

He was acquitted of war crimes on appeal in June but had already been convicted on the lesser charge of witness tampering during his trial.

“Mr. Bemba’s acquittal in the main case should have been the end of his exposure to the court, yet he continues to have the spectre of this institution hanging over him.”

Bemba, 55, had been in the ICC detention centre since his arrest in 2008. The Democratic Republic of Congo opposition leader was convicted in 2016 of crimes against humanity and sentenced to 18 years in prison.

As he awaited the outcome of a separate witness tampering charge brought in November, 2013, Bemba returned to DRC where he applied to contest in the December presidential elections.

His application was however rejected by the country’s electoral commission because of the ICC conviction.

A final decision on whether the witness tampering conviction makes him ineligible to stand is expected Wednesday.

Bemba, very popular in western Congo, ran against Kabila in 2006 elections that went to a run-off between them before Kabila won. Despite being behind bars for a decade, Bemba came third in the opinion poll by the Congo Research Group.

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