Lawyer appeals for release of former Congo vice president

A lawyer for former Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba has urged International Criminal Court judges to release him immediately following his acquittal last week on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes and the overturning of his 18-year sentence.

Tuesday's hearing focused on another case in which Bemba was convicted of interfering with witnesses during his trial. He remains jailed pending a decision on his sentence in that case, in which he faces a maximum of five years and a hefty fine.

Lawyer Melinda Taylor told judges that Bemba has already served nine-tenths of the maximum sentence possible in this conviction and should be freed to rejoin his wife and children in Belgium while he awaits a final ruling on the sentence.

Judges will issue a decision by Wednesday.