Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have rejected former Congolese vice-president and ex-rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba’s appeal against his conviction for bribing witnesses.
Bemba, who is already serving another 18-year jail sentence for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Central African Republic, had filed an appeal against an additional year in jail he was given for corruptly influencing witnesses and falsifying evidence in his original trial.
The ICC’s Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had also appealed, calling for a five-year term for Mr Bemba and his co-defendants, saying the original sentences were “disproportionate”, “manifestly inadequate” and did “not reflect the gravity of the offences”.
The judges decided to review the sentences imposed on Bemba and two of his co-accused for bribery, and “remand the matter to the original trial chamber for a new determination of their sentences”, AFP reports.
However, the ICC appeals chamber today also acquitted Bemba and four of his co-accused – Bemba’s lawyer Aimé Kilolo, his legal case manager Jean-Jacques Mangenda, Congolese politician Fidèle Babala and defence witness Narcisse Arido – of the separate charge of presenting false or forged evidence.
In 2016, the ICC found Bemba and his four co-accused guilty of various offences against the administration of justice. The five were sentenced to prison terms ranging from six months to two-and-half years.