The Hague, September 9, 2011 (FH) - Jean-Pierre Bemba, the leader of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) won't be able to be his party's candidate for the upcoming presidential election in DRC after his request for provisional release was rejected by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

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Bemba is charged with crimes against humanity and crimes of war mainly for his command responsibility in murders and rapes committed by his troops in the Central African Republic between October 2002 and March 2003.

After losing Congo's Presidential election in 2006, he went into exile in Portugal, before being arrested in Belgium. He has been detained in Scheveningen's prison since July 3, 2008.

According to the Registrar, Bemba's trial should last until December 2012.

Despite his detention, the Congolese senator was reelected in July 2011 as President of the MLC and chosen to be the party's candidate for the presidential election in DRC on November 28.

Since June, his Defence team has been striving to obtain a "provisional release of seventeen hours" for their client, in order for him "to exercise his civil rights". Bemba was willing to fly to DRC on a private jet to get his electoral card and to register as Presidential candidate before the Electoral commission in Kinshasa.

According to the trial chamber, "the accused remains a flight risk". The three judges underlined in the decision that their refusal should not "be considered an unreasonable restriction on his democratic rights."

With Bemba prevented from registering, his party might choose another candidate for the Presidential election, for which registration closes on September 11.


© Hirondelle News Agency