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ICC sentences former Congolese vice-president Bemba to 18 years in prison for war crimes

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ICC sentences former Congolese vice-president Bemba to 18 years in prison for war crimes

On June 21, 2016, the International Criminal Court (ICC)  sentenced former Congolese Vice-President, Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, to 18 years of imprisonment for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Central African Republic between October 2002 and March 2003.

In a ruling issued in March, the United Nations-backed ICC had found Mr. Bemba guilty beyond reasonable doubt as a military commander responsible for two counts of crimes against humanity (murder and rape) and three counts of war crimes (murder, rape and pillaging) committed in the Central African Republic in 2002-2003. (The Full Decision can be found at https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/record.aspx?docNo=ICC-01/05-01/08-3399 )

Mr. Bemba had been the commander-in-chief of the former Congolese rebel group, the Movement for the Liberation of Congo, as well as a vice-president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo during the 2003-2006 transition.

ICC Trial Chamber found that two aggravating circumstances applied to the crime of rape: it was committed against particularly defenseless victims, and with particular cruelty.

In light of his conviction, Mr. Bemba was sentenced to the following terms of imprisonment: 16 years of imprisonment for murder as a war crime; 16 years of imprisonment for murder as a crime against humanity; 18 years of imprisonment for rape as a war crime; 18 years of imprisonment for rape as a crime against humanity; and 16 years of imprisonment for pillaging as a war crime.

The Chamber considered that the highest sentence imposed, namely, 18 years for rape, reflected the totality of Mr. Bemba’s culpability, and decided that the sentences imposed shall run concurrently.

The entire time Mr. Bemba has spent in detention in accordance with an order of the ICC, since 24 May 2008, will be deducted from his sentence.

The decision of the ICC held that “high-level leaders, regardless of the mode of liability, generally bear heavier criminal responsibility than those further down the scale. Although once or several times physically removed from the acts of his or her subordinates, the culpability of a superior and his or her degree of moral blameworthiness might, depending on the concrete circumstances, be greater than that of his or her subordinates.”

Source: UN News – ICC sentences former Congolese vice-president Bemba to 18 years in prison for war crimes

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