After a rigorous trial before the International Criminal Court, former Vice President of the Democratic Republic of Congo was found guilty of war crimes.
With the verdict read out in the ICC trial chamber in Paris, France Jean Pierre Bemba was convicted of crimes against humanity and war crimes perpetrated in the Central African Republic (CAR) in 2002 and 2003. He was found guilty of rape, murder and pillage in his capacity as a military commander of the Mouvement de Libération du Congo.
What is groundbreaking about this verdict is that is this the first time ICC has put focus on crimes on sexual violence, particularly rape that was used as a tool to terrorise some men, women and children in CAR. Also, the judges held Bemba criminally responsible as the military commander for the crimes committed by his troops under his control. .”The paramount importance of this verdict cannot be overstated -. It is a landmark along the road to justice for victims of crimes of sexual violence as it is the first conviction of this kind in the ICC. This trial contributed to raising the awareness about the consequences of these atrocious crimes on victims and their lives.” said André Olivier Manguereka, LCDH President.
Since allegations of crimes committed back in 2002, various organizations including International Freedom of Human Rights (FIDH) have been documenting crimes, supporting victims to access justice through submitting communications to the ICC Office of the Prosecutor, also reporting the states unwillingness and inability to prosecute Bemba’s regime.
Through this verdict, the defence has 30 days to appeal the judgement and the trial chamber will determine an appropriate sentence for Bemba. The Chamber will also decide on reparations for victims which include rehabilitation and compensation.