ICC fines DRC’s Jean-Pierre Bemba for witness tampering

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The International Criminal Court (ICC) has fined former Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba €300,000 for tampering with witnesses during his war crimes trial.

The DRC politician, who has been barred from running in the country’s upcoming presidential elections, was also sentenced to 12 months in prison, but this was reduced to zero due to time already served. Bemba spent more than 10 years in prison after being found guilty of war crimes by the ICC but his conviction was overturned in June.

Bemba fined for witness tampering

During his initial trial for war crimes, Bemba was also charged with bribing witnesses and the case dragged on beyond his acquittal. The former vice president’s release from prison allowed him to return to the DRC shortly before the deadline for presidential candidates to register ahead of December’s election but the country’s top court ruled his ongoing case with the ICC makes him ineligible to run.

Bemba says he will file a new appeal against his sentence for witness tampering but even a successful appeal will come too late for him to run in this year’s election.

Jean-Pierre Bemba was sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2016 for murder, rape and pillaging carried out by his private army in the neighbouring Central African Republic (CAF). The former vice president spent more than a decade in jail but was freed earlier this year after an ICC judge ruled there was insufficient proof that Bemba had control over his soldiers’ actions.

The DRC will name its presidential candidates for December’s election on Thursday.

Featured image: By Bescherelle – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5093020

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.