Judges of the International Criminal Court have rejected a multimillion euro compensation claim by a former Congolese vice president, Jean-Pierre Bemba who was cleared of war crimes charges after spending a decade in the court’s custody.
Bemba filed a claim for compensation and damages after he was acquitted on appeal two years ago of war crimes and crimes against humanity alleged to have been committed as a military commander of troops fighting in the Central African Republic in 2002 and 2003.
He originally was convicted in 2016 and sentenced to 18 years imprisonment.
Bemba’s lawyers sought a total of nearly 69 million euros including compensation for the time he spent in jail and damages for legal costs and losses in the value of assets frozen by the court including a Boeing 727 passenger jet.
The court said in a statement on Monday ruled that Bemba “failed to establish that he had suffered a grave and manifest miscarriage of justice” and therefore rejected his request for compensation for his time behind bars.
The ruling came even though judges acknowledged that “10 years is a significant amount of time to spend in custody, likely to result in personal suffering, which would trigger compensation” in many national legal systems.
The 34-page written ruling called for the court’s governing body, the Assembly of States Parties, to urgently review whether it should impose limits on the length of trials or the amount of time suspects can be jailed before and during their cases.
Judges also dismissed Bemba’s request for damages to cover losses linked to his frozen assets, saying they didn’t have the power to rule on the claim.
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