ICC dismisses Bemba’s appeal against conviction for bribery of witnesses

The International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Appeal Chamber on Thursday rejected an appeal by former Congolese vice-president and ex-rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba against his conviction for bribing witnesses.

Bemba, already serving another 18-year jail sentence for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Central African Republic between 2002 and2003, had filed the appeal against an additional year in jail which was handed to him for corruptly influencing witnesses and falsifying evidence in his original trial.

The ICC’s Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had also appealed against the sentences imposed on 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.”

The Hague-based international court however 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.