Former Congo rebel leader arrested for war crimes 2008-05-25 11:07:37   Print

    KINSHASA, May 24 (Xinhua) -- Exiled former Congolese rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba was arrested in Brussels on Saturday on an International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant for war crimes, local media reported.

    Bemba, who had been in exile in Portugal, has been accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Congo's neighboring Central African Republic.

    "Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, President and Commander in Chief of the Mouvement de Liberation du Congo (MLC), is alleged to be criminally responsible for four counts of war crimes and two counts of crimes against humanity committed on the territory of the Central African Republic from Oct. 25, 2002 to March 15, 2003," the ICC said in a statement on its Website.

    Bemba, who fled the Democratic Republic of Congo last year, denies the charges that he was responsible for the killings and mass rapes of civilians in the Central African Republic when his rebel forces intervened in the country in support of then President Ange Felix Patasse, who was also accused of war crimes and was toppled in a 2003 coup.

    Bemba was defeated in the Democratic Republic of Congo's 2006 presidential election and had since become a prominent opposition figure in the country before being forced into exile.

    He is the first person arrested under an ICC investigation in the Central African Republic.

    The ICC, the world's first permanent war crimes court based in The Hague, is also looking into war crimes committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Sudan.

Editor: Wang Hongjiang
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