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Belgium prepared to accept DR Congo's Bemba after acquittal: official

AFP  |  Brussel 

is prepared to accept former Democratic Republic of vice Jean-Pierre Bemba, after he was cleared of war crimes last week, has said.

"The Belgian authorities have responded favourably to the court's request to allow Mr to stay in Belgium, where his family lives, following his release on bail," Reynders said in a statement yesterday, adding that the handover would be finalised in the coming days.

left the detention centre of the on Wednesday following his acquittal of war crimes after a decade behind bars, his said.

He was acquitted on appeal last Friday in a surprise decision, with the in saying he could not be held criminally liable for crimes committed by his troops in the in 2002-2003.

Bemba, 55, had been sentenced unanimously to 18 years in 2016 by ICC trial judges after a decade behind bars following his arrest in

has requested a short-stay visa, which would allow him to remain for 90 days in at first, said a for Belgium's

That request is being considered by the foreign office.

Sources said Bemba's wife and children already live in the suburb of Rhode-Saint-Genese, from where he was seized back in 2008 at the international court's request.

Judges had initially found Bemba guilty on five counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by his private army during a five-month rampage in the neighbouring CAR.

Bemba had sent his militia, the MLC -- a rebel force that he later transformed into a political organisation -- into the DR Congo's northern neighbour in October 2002 to quash a coup against then

Bemba had unsuccessfully opposed in elections in 2006. After his militia clashed violently with government forces in 2007, he was forced out of the DR but retains a groundswell of support.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, June 15 2018. 02:30 IST