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Former Congo VP found guilty of bribing witnesses

[JURIST] A former vice president of the Democratic Republic of Congo [BBC profile] was found guilty [judgment, PDF] of bribing witnesses in his International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] trial for war crimes. On Wednesday The Hague-based court found Jean-Pierre Bemba [BBC profile] guilty of bribery during the trial [ICC trial profile] in March when he was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Bemba was convicted of influencing witnesses and falsifying evidence at trial, after the court was made aware that Bemba masterminded the bribery scheme from within his prison cell. During the second Congo civil war, Bemba's troops committed rapes, murders and pillaged in 2002 and 2003.

The Bemba [JURIST news archive] case has been ongoing before the ICC since 2008. In March the ICC found unanimously [JURIST report] that Bemba was guilty of two counts of crimes against humanity and three counts of war crimes for his role in the armed conflict in the Central African Repubilc in 2002 and 2003. In September of last year Bemba pleaded not guilty to charges of interfering with the administration of justice after he and four members of his legal team were ordered to stand trial [JURIST reports] on those charges. In October 2014 ICC Trial Chamber III delayed the closing statements [JURIST report] in the case against Bemba so that it could hear additional witness testimony after the defense requested to testify about alleged collusion between prosecution witnesses. In November 2013 four persons were arrested on charges of falsifying evidence [JURIST report] in connection with the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba Bemba's defense lawyers opened their case before the ICC in August 2012.

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