Arusha, October 22, 2014 (FH) – The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday ordered the provisional release of four suspects close to Congolese Senator and former Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba, “to avoid that the duration of the pre-trial detention become disproportionate”.

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Jean-Pierre Bemba is on trial before the ICC for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in the Central African Republic (CAR) in 2002 and 2003.

Judge Cuno Tarfusser “ordered the release of Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Fidèle Babala Wandu and Narcisse Arido”, says an ICC press release.

The four men, along with Bemba himself, are accused of witness tampering and making false statements in Bemba’s crimes against humanity and war crimes trial.

Kilolo and Mangenda form part of Bemba’s defence team in his ongoing trial. In this trial, Bemba is accused of bearing individual responsibility for crimes committed in the CAR by members of his MLC movement, which is now the second biggest opposition party in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Member of Parliament and MLC deputy secretary-general Babala Wandu was Bemba’s private secretary when Bemba was Vice-President of the DRC from 2003 to 2006. The other suspect, Narcisse Arido, is a defence witness.

When the four were arrested, the ICC said it had reasonable grounds to believe that the four men had worked together to produce false or falsified documents and to corrupt certain people so that they testify in Bemba’s favour.

If found guilty, they face possible imprisonment of up to five years, or a fine, or both.