The International Criminal Court has sentenced a former Congolese Vice President, Jean-Pierre Bemba, to 18 years imprisonment for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Central African Republic.
Mr. Bemba was found guilty by the Hague-based court in March of killings, mass rape and looting when he was the supreme commander of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) in 2002-2003.
He is the highest-ranking politician to have been sentenced by the court to date.
Mr. Bemba is expected to appeal the judgment.
Reacting to the ruling, Mr. Bemba’s brother Jean-Jacques told newsmen that it was painful.
“It really hurts; it is painful for those close to him,” he said.
He said an appeal against the ruling was a “double-edged sword” as it could lead to a longer sentence.
“We feel small in relation to the international judiciary, we feel impotent,” Mr. Jean-Jacques Bemba said.
The former vice president, who was arrested in Belgium in 2008, pleaded not guilty when his ICC trial opened in November 2010.
Prosecutors had asked for at least 25 years in prison.
Time spent in detention while awaiting trial would be deducted from the sentence.
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