Former Vice-President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jean-Pierre Bemba is preparing to move to Belgium after being cleared of war crimes by the International Criminal Court. The disclosure was made Thursday by the Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Didier Reynders.
In a statement issued by the minister, ”The Belgian authorities have responded favorably to the court’s request to allow Mr. Bemba to stay in Belgium, where his family lives, following his release on bail”. He confirms the move will be finalized in the day ahead.
After spending more than a decade at the detention centre of the International Criminal Court, Bemba has left the tribunal’s custody following his acquittal of war crimes,
In a surprise decision last Friday, Bemba was acquitted by the Hague-based court ruling he could not be criminally responsible for crimes committed by troops under his command.
In 2016, Bemba was unanimously sentenced to 18 years by ICC judges following his arrest in Belgium.
The Foreign Affairs office is considering issuing a short stay visa that has been requested by Bemba, which will allow him a 90 days stay in Belgium according to a spokesman for migration ministry.
Before the ruling eas overturn, judges have initially found Bemba guilty of five counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Crimes committed by his private army during a five-month operation in the Central African Republic.
The MLC, a rebel militia which Bemba later transformed into a political organization into DR Congo back in 2002 to quell a coup against then president Ange-Felix Patasse.
Jean-Pierre Bemba had challenged President Joseph Kabila in the 2006 presidential elections. A year after, his private army violently clashed with government forces which prompted him to flee the country but he retains grassroot support in the country.
BaretaNews Foreign Correspondent/Analyst