Former vice-president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jean-Pierre Bemba, has had his conviction for war crimes overturned.
Judge Christine van den Wijngaert, hearing his appeal for the International Criminal Court, overturned the 2016 conviction, saying the judges failed to take some evidence into consideration.
She ruled that the judges failed to acknowledge Bemba’s attempts to stop the crimes once he was made aware of them, and that they ignored “ignored significant testimonial evidence that Bemba’s ability to investigate and punish crimes in CAR was limited”, BBC reports.
Bemba was sentenced to 18 years in prison for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The crimes were carried out in DRC’s neighbour, the Central African Republic. Bemba reportedly sent more than 1 000 fighters to the CAR in 2002 to help then-president, Ange Felix Patasse, quell an attempted coup. His forces reportedly committed acts of extreme violence against civilians in the CAR.
Amnesty International called the decision a “huge blow” for the victims of what it called a “horrifying campaign of rape and sexual violence”. The group called on authorities to work even harder on prosecuting those responsible.