Congolese ex-rebel leader and ex Vice President Jean Pierre Bemba was jailed for 18 years by the International Criminal Court in a landmark ruling for war crimes and sexual violence.
Bemba’s trial opened in November 2010 after his arrest in 2008, was found guilty of five charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in March 2016 leading up to his landmark conviction on July 21, 2016.
He was convicted for failing to stop his rebels from killing and raping people in the Central African Republic.
Here are 20 quick facts about the man Jean-Pierre Bemba
Congolese politician Jean-Pierre Bemba found guilty of war crimes in CAR (ICC) pic.twitter.com/lQz9NiTlu5— africanews (@africanews) March 21, 2016
1. He first appeared on the scene as a rebel leader helped by Uganda to form the MLC (Movement for the Liberation of Congo) rebel group, that was in 1998. The reason he is referred to as a war lord.
2. He became vice president of the DRC under a peace deal in 2003
3. He contested against incumbent Kabila in 2006 elections but lost.
4. Despite his loss, Bemba had a lot of votes in western Congo including the capital Kinshasa.
5. He fled to Belgium in 2007 when violence broke out in DR Congo.
6. A year later (2008) he was arrested in the Belgian capital and handed over to the ICC.
7. The international court subsequently opened a case against him.
8. The case boardered on his days as a rebel leader, specifically between October 2002 and March 2003 (He sent 1,000 soldiers to CAR to help then president Ange Felixe Patassé to douse a coup attempt)
9. Summary of the charges were rape and murders in CAR committed by his fighters under his watch.
10. He is the first person convicted on charges with rape as a war crime.
11. His trial by the ICC started in 2010.
12. After six years, he was finally found guilty and handed an 18-year jail term.
13. He would however serve only 10 years.
14. The court factored the period of the trial into his sentence.
15. He was convicted on two counts of murder and of rape and one count of pillaging.
16. Counts: Murder as (war crime and crime against humanity) same for rape. Pillaging as a war crime.
17. Judge says prosecition had requested 25-years but Bemba’s lawyers pushed for 12-14 years.
18. The court said the highest it could have given him was 30 years even life imprisonment.
19. According to the court, under Bemba’s watch Rapes, often involving gang rapes, were “especially sadistic” and committed with “particular cruelty” and entire families were often victimised in turn.
20. It is not yet clear where he would be serving his sentence and the amount of compensation to be paid to victims.