The International Criminal Court has sentenced Congolese politician Jean-Pierre Bemba to one year in prison for bribing witnesses, but says he will not be jailed due to time already served.
Bemba, a key rival to Congolese President Joseph Kabila, was provisionally freed by the international court in The Hague last month and returned home hoping to make a political comeback. He was greeted by tens of thousands of supporters and announced his candidacy to challenge Kabila in elections.
But the Congolese Constitutional Court ruled Bemba was ineligible to run in December presidential polls because of his ICC conviction. The Congolese court said the guilty verdict amounted to corruption and said Congolese law bars people convicted of corruption from running for the presidency.
Bemba lost the presidential election to Kabila in 2006, and was later accused of treason when his bodyguards clashed with the army in the capital, Kinshasa.
In 2007, he fled to Belgium, where he was arrested on an ICC warrant and transferred to the international court in The Hague.
The ICC convicted Bemba in 2016 for murders, rapes and pillaging committed by his private army in Central African Republic in 2002 and 2003, and sentenced him to 18 years in prison.
But an ICC appeals court this year overturned that ruling, saying prosecutors had failed to show Bemba had enough control over troops to bear responsibility for their wrongdoing.
Source: Voice of America