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Jean-Pierre Bemba arrested on charges of war crimes

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Jean-Pierre Bemba arrested on charges of war crimes

Post by shammy on Sun May 25, 2008 9:48 am

THE HAGUE, Netherlands: Former Congolese warlord and ex-presidential candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba has been arrested in Brussels on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The International Criminal Court announced his arrest in a news release late Saturday, and said Bemba was head of a militia that supposedly committed atrocities in the 2002-2003 armed conflict in the neighboring Central African Republic.

The international court has been investigating allegations of mass rape and other war crimes committed in the Central African Republic between 2002 and 2003, including by Congolese rebels who were then controlled by Bemba.

Bemba, who also is a former vice-president of Congo, was the first person to be arrested in connection with that investigation opened last year, the court said.

"There are no excuses for hundreds of rapes," Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said in a statement. "There are no excuses for the rape of a little girl, with her parents watching. There are no excuses for commanders ordering, authorizing or acquiescing to the commission of rapes and looting by their forces."

Central African Republic has suffered decades of army revolts, coups and rebellions since it gained independence from France in 1960. Poor and landlocked, the nation of 3.6 million is governed by President Francois Bozize.

Various fighting forces were inside the country when Bozize attacked and captured the capital in 2003 while ex-President Ange-Felix Patasse traveled overseas. They included Bemba's Congolese rebels.

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/05/25/news/War-Crimes-Bemba.php

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