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
"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
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.