Former Congo VP sentenced to additional year in prison

Former Congo VP sentenced to additional year in prison

[JURIST] Former vice president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, was sentenced [decision, PDF] on Wednesday by the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] to an additional year in prison and fined approximately $325,000 for interfering with his own trial in March of 2016. In 2016 Bemba was charged [decision, PDF] with bribing witnesses and falsifying evidence after the court discovered Bemba conducted a bribery scheme from his prison cell. Four members of his legal team [ICC materials], Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Fidèle Babala Wandu and Narcisse Arido, were also sentenced on Wednesday for aiding Bemba in influencing witnesses [ICC backgrounder].

The Bemba case [JURIST news archive] has been on-going before the ICC since 2008. During the second Congo civil war [BBC profile], Bemba’s troops committed rapes, murders and pillaged in 2002 and 2003, and in March 2016 the ICC unanimously found [JURIST report] that Bemba was guilty of two counts of crimes against humanity and three counts of war crimes. In November 2013, the four members of Bemba’s legal team were arrested on charges of falsifying evidence [JURIST report] in connection with the trial. In October 2014, ICC Trial Chamber III delayed [JURIST report] the closing statements in the Bemba case so that it could hear additional witness testimony after the defense requested to testify about alleged collusion between prosecution witnesses.