Jean-Pierre Bemba sentenced to 18 years in prison by international criminal court
PARIS — A former vice president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jean-Pierre Bemba, was sentenced on Tuesday to 18 years in prison for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by militiamen under his command during a four-month rampage of looting, rape and murder in the Central African Republic.
The sentence, handed down by an international panel of judges in The Hague, is considered significant for a number of reasons. Notably, Mr. Bemba was convicted even though he was far away from the militia fighting under his orders and was not present during any of the war crimes; the court said he was culpable because of his command responsibility. He should have halted or prevented the crimes, the judges said.
Mr. Bemba, who is now 53, was a businessman and scion of a prominent Congolese family before rising to the vice presidency — successful, rich and believed to be untouchable.READ MORE