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Former DR Congo leader to remain in ICC custody ahead of war crimes trial

3 September 2009 – A former senior official of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) who has been charged with war crimes will remain in custody ahead of his trial, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided today.

Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, the former Congolese Vice-President who is accused of having committed war crimes and crimes against humanity – including rape, murder and pillaging – in the neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR) in 2002 and 2003, was granted temporary release last month, albeit under conditions.

The Pre-Trial Chamber had found that his continued detention was unnecessary to ensure his appearance at trial.

But ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo appealed that decision, stressing that Mr. Bemba is a flight risk and may harm witnesses involved in his trial.

The Appeals Chamber today granted suspensive effect to the Prosecutor’s appeal, which means that there is no possibility of Mr. Bemba’s release while it considers the appeal.

The ICC is an independent, permanent court that investigates and prosecutes persons accused of the most serious crimes, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

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