Former Congo vice president's lawyers call for his acquittal at international court trial

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Lawyers for former Congo vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba have called on judges at the International Criminal Court to acquit him of charges including murder, rape and pillage allegedly committed by his militia in Central African Republic in 2002-2003.

As closing arguments in Bemba's four-year trial ended Thursday, his defense lawyer Peter Haynes told the three-judge panel that "the correct verdicts upon this evidence and after this trial process would be the acquittal of Mr. Jean-Pierre Bemba.

Prosecutors have urged judges to convict Bemba on all charges saying he controlled his forces and could have prevented or halted atrocities blamed on the troops.

Haynes says the evidence isn't strong enough to convict Bemba. He says, "ultimately, the prosecution has failed to prove these charges."

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