Former Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba has been released by the ICC ahead of his war crimes trial in The Hague. But his release is on hold until a suitable country can be found to host him. Bemba led a rebel group during Congo’s civil war and was arrested in Belgium and extradited to The Hague last year. He claimed that when his troops crossed into the Central African Republic to help the then President Felix Patasse put down a coup attempt, they were not under his command. Bemba had laid down his arms after a peace deal in 2003 and became a member of the then interim government.
In a statement from the Hague, the ICC said that after a pre-trial hearing, Bemba’s detention was unnecessary and Cited three reasons:
- 1) To ensure his appearance at his trial
- 2) To ensure he did not hamper court proceedings
- 3) Or to prevent him “from continuing with the commission of the same or related crimes”.
Hearings to decide which country would take Bemba and also to determine the conditions of release, would be held in the second week of September. Members of Bemba’s rebel group were accused of criminal responsibility for atrocities including murders, rapes and pillaging.
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