Bemba sentencing a warning to other warlords
From JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – RIGHTS groups have welcomed the landmark sentencing of Jean-Pierre Bemba to 18 years in prison for rape, murder and pillage committed by his troops in the Central African Republic in 2002 and 2003.
The sentence is the longest handed down so far in the ICC’s history, and yet still falls short of the 25 years asked by the Office of the Prosecutor and the maximum sentence requested by the Legal Representative for the more than 5,000 participating victims in this trial.
It is hoped his sentencing would be a deterrent to other would-be perpetrators.
“Let this sentence be a warning to all other commanders who allow their troops to brutalise women and men, girls and boys: your acts are criminal and you will be punished,” Karim Lahidi International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) President, said.
Bemba (53) was sentenced to 16 years for the war crime and crime against humanity of murder, 18 years for the war crime and crime against humanity of rape, and 16 years for the war crime of pillaging.
The judges found that the acts of rape were perpetrated with particular cruelty and against especially vulnerable victims, thereby contributing to the aggravating circumstances of the crimes.
The sentences will be served concurrently, less the time he has spent in pre-trial detention since his arrest in 2008.
Following his sentencing by the International Criminal Court (ICC), there has been an appeal to repatriate thousands of victims of his crimes.
“The next step is to address Mr. Bemba’s liability for providing redress and reparation to the thousands of victims of his crimes,” stated Mathias Morouba, President of Central African Republic Observatory for Human Rights.
– CAJ News
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