Congo warlord convicted of crimes against humanity

The International Criminal Court (ICC) on March 20 declared unanimously (PDF) that Congolese ex-military leader Jean-Pierre Bemba is guilty of two counts of crimes against humanity and three counts of war crimes for his role in armed conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) in 2002 and 2003. The case of The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo lasted almost eight years, following Bemba's arrest by Belgian authorities in 2008. Bemba was on trial for crimes committed during his time as the commander of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC). He was found guilty of rape, murder and pillage; the verdict condemned the widespread use of sexual violence as a means of war. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, welcomed the judgment, stating the ruling "sends an important message across the world that international justice will finally prevail, even in cases where civilians with supervisory, or command, responsibility are accused of crimes committed in a country other than their own."

From Jurist, March 21. Used with permission.

Note: Upon the 2008 arrest of Jean-Pierre Bemba, many Congolese protested that the ICC has still issued no warrant for Rwanda-backed warlord Laurent Nkunda. However, another Rwanda-backed rebel leader,  Bosco Ntaganda is currently on trial before the ICC. There have thus far been two convictions by the ICC, both from the Congo war and both backed by Rwanda: Thomas Lubanga Dyilo and Germain Katanga. A third figure from the Congo war, again Rwanda-backed, Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, was acquitted in 2012.

  1. ICC sentences former Congo VP for witness tampering

    The International Criminal Court (ICC)  on Sept. 17 sentenced (PDF) former vice president of the Democratic Republic of Congo Jean-Pierre Bemba to 12 months in prison and issued a $350,000 fine for bribing witnesses during his war crimes trial in 2016.

    Bemba recently returned to the Democratic Republic of Congo to submit his candidacy for the upcoming presidential election but was barred by a current law that prohibits people who were found guilty of corruption from entering the race. (Jurist)