UN: ICC declares DRC rebel leader guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity

New York, US (PANA) - Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Court (ICC)
on Monday unanimously declared Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) rebel leader,
Jean-Pierre Bemba, guilty beyond any reasonable doubt of two counts of crimes against
humanity (murder and rape) and three counts of war crimes (murder, rape, and pillaging).

Bemba was charged with two counts of crimes against humanity (murder and rape)
and three counts of war crimes (murder, rape, and pillaging), allegedly committed during
the conflict in Central African Republic (CAR) in 2002-2003.

An ICC statement made available to PANA in New York said that the crimes were committed by a contingent of Mouvement de Liberation du Congo (MLC) troops, and Bemba was
"effectively acting as a military commander with effective authority and control over
the forces that committed the crimes."

It said the Trial Chamber found that Bemba, a Congolese citizen, was the MLC
President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armee de Liberation du Congo (ALC),
the organization’s figurehead, and source of its funding, goals, and aims.

"An MLC contingent of three battalions totalling around 1,500 men was
deployed by Bemba to CAR in 2002 at the request and in support of former CAR
President Ange-Felix Patasse to counter forces loyal to former Chief of Staff of the
Forces armées centrafricaines (FACA), General Francois Bozize."

The statement said the Chamber also concluded, based on the evidence before it,
that the conflict in CAR, from on or about 26 October 2002 to 15 March 2003, was
an armed conflict between the Central African governmental authorities, supported
by other forces, including the MLC, on the one hand, and the organized armed group
of General Bozize’s rebels, composed of various former FACA soldiers and some
Chadian nationals.

The Chamber also concluded that MLC soldiers directed a widespread attack
against the civilian population in CAR throughout the period of the charges.

MLC soldiers committed many acts of pillaging, rape, and murder against
civilians, over a large geographical area, including in and around Bangui, PK12,
PK22, Bozoum, Damara, Sibut, Bossangoa, Bossembélé, Dékoa, Kaga Bandoro,
Bossemptele, Boali, Yaloke, and Mongoumba.

It found that acts of murder, rape, and pillaging were committed consistent
with evidence of a modus operandi apparent from the earliest days and employed
throughout the 2002-2003 CAR operation, after General Bozize’s rebels had
departed an area, MLC soldiers searched "house-to-house" for remaining rebels,
raping civilians, pillaging their belongings, and, on some occasions, killing those
who resisted.

On personal liability, the Chamber concluded beyond reasonable doubt that
Bemba was a person effectively acting as a military commander (Article 28(a)
of the ICC Rome Statute), who knew that the MLC forces under his effective
authority and control were committing or about to commit the crimes charged.

Additionally, it said that the rebel leader failed to take all necessary and
reasonable measures to prevent or repress the commission of crimes by his
subordinates during the 2002-2003 CAR operation, or to submit the matter to
the competent authorities.

Furthermore, the Chamber found beyond reasonable doubt that the crimes
against humanity of murder and rape, and the war crimes of murder, rape, and
pillaging committed by the MLC forces in the course of the 2002-2003 CAR
operation were a result of Bemba's failure to exercise control properly.

On sentencing and victims’ reparations, the Chamber said it would decide on the
procedure to be followed for sentencing, after hearing the parties and the legal
representative of victims, while issues related to the procedure for victims’
reparations would be addressed in due course.

According to the statement, the parties, the prosecution and the defence may
appeal the decision of conviction within 30 days, in accordance with the Rome
Statute and the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, in which case the matter will
be put to the Appeals Chamber composed of five judges.

The ICC Trial Chamber III is composed of Presiding Judge Sylvia Steiner (Brazil),
Judge Joyce Aluoch (Kenya) and Judge Kuniko Ozaki (Japan).
-0-   PANA   AA/AR   21March2016

21 march 2016 16:29:20

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