Former Congolese leader sentenced to 18 years for war crimes
CONGOLESE EX-REBEL LEADER JEAN-PIERE JAILED BY ICC…..REMORSELESS MUGABE SHOULD ALSO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR GUKURAHUNDI ATROCITIES
The International Criminal Court sentenced former vice president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jean-Pierre Bemba, on Tuesday to 18 years in jail, handing down its toughest penalty ever for “sadistic” rapes and murders by his troops in the Central African Republic. The sentence is the highest yet passed by the ICC, the world’s first permanent war crimes court, which has previously handed down sentences of 12 and 14 years in prison for two other Congolese militia leaders. Bemba’s case was also the first at the ICC to focus on rape as a weapon of war and the first to highlight a military commander’s responsibility for the conduct of the troops under his control.
It is sending a very strong signal to commanders that they will be held accountable for the crimes that their troops commit in the field, especially when they had the ability and control to stop it and did not.
The atrocities were carried out by Bemba’s private army, the Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC), when troops unleashed a five-month campaign of terror in CAR to quash a coup against then president Ange-Félix Patassé. Some men and women were raped repeatedly in front of their families by as many as 20 soldiers. Others were shot point blank for refusing to hand over a motorbike or a sheep. Bemba’s defense team has already filed notice that it intends to appeal, and argued he should be released immediately as he has been behind bars since his arrest in 2008.
[The ruling offers] a measure of justice for victims of sexual violence and other grave crimes in the Central African Republic, where armed groups have preyed on civilians with total impunity for more than a decade.
Human Rights Watch
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