Criminal Court Extends Prison Sentence of Former Congolese Leader

Former Congolese vice-president Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo in the ICC courtroom during the delivery of his sentence on 21 June 2016. Photo: UN / ICC-CPI
Former Congolese vice-president Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo in the ICC courtroom during the delivery of his sentence on 21 June 2016. Photo: UN / ICC-CPI

The United Nations-backed International Criminal Court (ICC) on Wednesday sentenced the former Congolese Vice-President, Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, to another year in prison and about $325,000 in fines for interfering with his trial.

According to a UN report, judges ordered that the sentence be served consecutively to Mr. Bemba’s existing 18 year sentence for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Central African Republic between October 2002 and March 2003.

In their ruling, according to the UN, the judges ordered the fine to be paid within three months to the ICC and then transferred to the Trust Fund for Victims.

Mr. Bemba, along with two of the four other people accused, were found guilty in October “for having jointly committed the offences of intentionally corruptly influencing 14 defence witnesses, and presenting their false evidence to the court.”

Mr. Bemba was also found guilty of soliciting the giving of false testimony by the 14 defence witnesses and attempting to corruptly influence two defence witnesses.

These charges were in addition to the main ruling issued in March 2016, in which the ICC found Mr. Bemba guilty beyond reasonable doubt on 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.

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.

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Rakesh Raman