Jean Pierre Bemba will serve 16 years for murder as a war crime, 16 years for murder as a crime against humanity, 18 years for rape as a war crime, 18 years of imprisonment for rape as a crime against humanity and 16 years for pillaging as a war crime. The sentences imposed shall run concurrently.
The sentence announced this afternoon by trial chamber III of the International Criminal Court, follows a recent conviction in a ruling delivered by 'The Hague' based court after finding Bemba guilty of a devastating campaign of rape, murder and torture in the Central African Republic.
The alleged acts took place between October 2002 and March 2003 when Bemba's rebels operating as the 'Mouvement de Libération du Congo' helped to put down a coup against Ange-Felix Patasse, the former president of the Central African Republic.
It was the first time the court applied the principle of command or superior responsibility to convict someone, who was far from the battleground while his militia committed its crimes. Bemba was a person effectively acting as a military commander with effective authority and control over the forces that committed the crimes.
The judges found that he was culpable for having "failed to prevent" the crimes committed by his subordinates, and for doing nothing to punish the offenses.
Court heard that Bemba's men were involved in the gang rape of women and girls as young as 10, forced sons to rape their mothers in front of their fathers, raped wives in front of their husbands, and children in front of their parents.
"To this day, men, women and children who survived are still haunted by the horror of what happened to them, and what they saw happen to other victims. Lives have been destroyed for years and it will take several generations to heal," ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said after the judgment.
Presiding Judge Sylvia Steiner indicated that the Chamber found the crimes of murder, rape, and pillaging to be of serious gravity specifically because they were committed against defenseless victims and with particular cruelty. The court added that no mitigating circumstances existed in some of the cases.
In light of his conviction, Bemba will serve 16 years for murder as a war crime, 16 years for murder as a crime against humanity, 18 years for rape as a war crime, 18 years of imprisonment for rape as a crime against humanity and 16 years for pillaging as a war crime. The sentences imposed shall run concurrently.
Court added that the entire time he has spent in detention in accordance with an order of this Court, since 24 May 2008, will be deducted from his sentence.