An appeals panel at the International Criminal Court on Tuesday rejected former Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba's bid to have rape, murder and pillage charges against him dismissed.
Bemba is accused of commanding a militia responsible for atrocities in the neighboring Central African Republic in 2002-2003. He argued the charges were inadmissible because authorities in the Central African Republic had investigated the allegations and decided not to prosecute him.
The International Court, the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal, is a court of last resort. It cannot prosecute suspects if legal authorities in their home country already have convicted them or investigated and decided not to file charges.
However, appeals judge Anita Usacka rejected Bemba's arguments, saying the Central African Republic's highest court overturned a 2004 decision to dismiss charges against Bemba and correctly referred the case to the International Criminal Court.
"The appeals chamber confirms the impugned decision and dismisses the appeal," said Usacka, who is from Latvia.