Ex-Congolese VP faces judgement in Hague

Jean-Pierre Bemba, a former Congolese vice-president would face judgment before the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday, when judges would rule on whether he committed war crimes in the Central African Republic (CAR).

A statement on Sunday in Kinshasa said he would be the most senior political leader ever in CAR to face judgment before the ICC.

Bemba a wealthy businessman, whose Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) militia and political party vied for dominance in the DRC in the early 2000s, was charged with ordering rape and murder.

The statement said further that Bemba, an old rival of Congolese President Joseph Kabila, if acquitted, he could return to political life in CAR.
It said the charges two of crimes against humanity and three of war crimes started from his militia’s intervention on the side of CAR’s then President Ange-Felix Patasse in the neighbouring country’s civil war.

It said Bemba has denied the charges.

The ICC’s prosecutors said Bemba knew, or should have known that his MLC soldiers were committing crimes.
They said during the five-year trial, 40 witnesses testified.
The prosecutors said one described being raped by two MLC soldiers and she was later diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.

Meanwhile, Bemba’s lawyers said he had no control over the MLC’s campaign in CAR, during which they claimed its soldiers were fully under Patasse’s command.
They said his arrest in 2008 came as a surprise both to Bemba and his supporters and opponents at home.

The layers said Bemba had been living in semi-exile in Europe for several years when prosecutors sprung a trap by issuing an arrest warrant during a visit to Belgium.

Bemba is in the court’s prison, in The Hague’s seaside suburb of Scheveningen, where he rubs shoulders with suspects including former IvorianPresident Laurent Gbagbo and fellow Congolese Germain Katanga, who is appealing his war crimes conviction.
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