Former Congolese Vice President convicted of war crimes at ICC

March 23, 2016 OPINION/NEWS


Darell Maurice

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday hailed a “historic” judgment of the Court which recognized that former Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba committed crimes against humanity and war crimes for murder and rape committed by his militia in Central African Republic in 2002-2003.

“I think this is a very important day for international justice, especially regarding sex crimes,” said Fatou Bensouda, chief ICC prosecutor, adding that the day was “historic.”

Bemba, a former rebel leader in northern Democratic Republic of Congo, is responsible for the crimes of his troops as a military commander, said the judges. Some 1,500 armed men from the former rebel leader had surrendered in Central Africa in October 2002 to support President Ange-Félix Patassé, victim of an attempted coup led by General François Bozizé.

There they raped, pillaged and killed, said Judge Sylvia Steiner, highlighting a long list of rapes, often accompanied by other abuses committed by the troops of Jean-Pierre Bemba.

“Victims have waited a long time for justice to be done and I think that today, with this judgment, this was the case,” assured Fatou Bensouda.

“This is important because military commanders might think they are not responsible for crimes committed on the ground,” she explained, pointing out that in the case of Bemba, it “could stop the crimes or punish them, because he had effective control of his troops.”

The sentence will be pronounced at a later date by the ICC. He faces up to 30 years imprisonment or life imprisonment, if the judges feel that the “extreme gravity of the crime” warrants this. ” We will consider what is the appropriate sentence to ask the judges,” the prosecutor stated.








Darell Maurice

Darell Maurice is a Journalist based in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital city Kinshasa and works for Canal7kintv. He also blogs here.


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