DR Congo ex-warlord guilty of war crimes

Jean-Pierre Bemba in 2010Image copyright

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Jean-Pierre Bemba was arrested in Belgium in 2008

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has found former Congolese rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba guilty of war crimes in a trial at the Hague.

Mr Bemba was accused of failing to stop his rebels from killing and raping people in neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR) in 2002 and 2003.

He had sent more than 1,000 fighters to help put down an attempted coup.

Mr Bemba, once Vice-President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, will remain in custody until sentencing.

It is the first time the court has focussed on sexual violence as a weapon of war.

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Mr Bemba led rebel MLC forces in DR Congo before signing a peace deal with the government

It is alleged that for a period of five months Mr Bemba’s Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) rebel fighters killed hundred of civilians, raped women and looted.

His lawyers argued that once the troops had crossed the border they were no longer under his command, but under the then CAR President Ange-Felix Patasse.

Mr Bemba led the MLC during DR Congo’s brutal civil war.

After a peace deal in DR Congo in 2003, he laid down his arms and joined an interim government.

He lost a run-off election against President Joseph Kabila in 2006.

Mr Bemba was living in Belgium when he was arrested in 2008 to stand trial.

Jean-Pierre Bemba:

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Getty Images

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Mr Bemba had good relations with some of Africa’s leaders

  • Son of prominent businessman
  • Former assistant to Mobutu Sese Seko
  • 1998: Helped by Uganda to form MLC rebel group
  • 2003: Becomes vice-president under peace deal
  • 2006: Loses run-off election to President Joseph Kabila but gets most votes in western DR Congo, including Kinshasa
  • 2007: Flees to Belgium after clashes in Kinshasa
  • 2008: Arrested in Brussels and handed over to ICC

Profile: Jean-Pierre Bemba

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