HAGUE JUNE 21, 2016 (CISA) – The International Criminal Court (ICC) has handed DR Congo’s former leader Jean-Pierre Bemba 18 years sentence after conviction for war crimes and sexual violence.
ICC handed down its sentence against the former vice president after he was convicted of abetting rapes and murders in the Central African Republic over a decade ago.
Following his conviction Bemba has became the highest-ranking official to date to be sentenced at the court’s headquarters in The Hague, but his lawyers have already announced that they will appeal his war crimes conviction and press for a mistrial.
Bemba, 53, was found guilty on March 21 on five charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by his private army, the Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC).
According to ICC, Bemba sent the MLC into the neighbouring Central African Republic from October 2002 to March 2003 to put down a coup against then president Ange-Felix Patasse.
In their March verdict, the judges found Bemba turned a blind eye to a reign of terror by some 1,500 of his troops.
Despite knowing what was happening, Bemba “failed to take all necessary and reasonable measures to prevent” a litany of crimes, which included the gang rapes of men, women and children, sometimes as their relatives were forced to watch, the judges said.
The three trial judges concluded that Bemba could at any point have ended the MLC’s five-month rampage, but instead did nothing.