THE HAGUE, MARCH 22, 2016 (CISA) – Former vice president of the Democratic Republic of Congo Jean-Pierre Bemba was on March 21 convicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for cases of rape and murder in the neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR).
ICC’s presiding judge, Sylvia Steiner said Bemba who served as vice president from 2003 to 2006, “failed to discipline or restrain his Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) soldiers as they rampaged through the neighbouring country in 2002 and 2003.”
The case is the first in which the ICC has found a high official directly responsible for the crimes of his subordinates, as well as the first to focus primarily on crimes of sexual violence committed in war, reported Reuters.
Judge Steiner further ordered that Bemba be held in custody pending sentencing at a later date.
United Nations Human Rights commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein termed the verdict as a step towards eradicating “the horrendous sexual crimes which have blighted the lives of so many women.”
Bemba who founded and helped finance the MLC entered government under current President Joseph Kabila in 2003 as part of a power-sharing deal that ended years of civil war.
He was one of four vice-presidents in the transitional government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 17 July 2003 to December 2006.