Belgium extradites ex-Congo leader to war crimes court

4th July 2008, Comments 0 comments

Belgian authorities have extradited former Congolese vice president to face war crimes charges.

4 July 2008

NAIROBI / THE HAGUE - Belgian authorities have extradited Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, former vice president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, to face war crimes charges, the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague said Thursday.

Bemba was detained in Belgium in May following his flight from the DRC in 2007 after losing presidential elections and refusing to disarm his militia.

The suspect, who was president and commander in chief of the Congo Liberation Movement (MLC), is accused of crimes against humanity - including murder, torture and rape - in the Central African Republic between October 2002 and March 2003.

More than five million people are estimated to have died as a result of the long conflict in the resource-rich DRC.

The conflict is often referred to as the African World War due to the large number of different armed forces involved.

The war officially ended in 2003 when a transitional government took control.

However, clashes between various militia groups, government forces and peacekeepers have continued.

The ICC on Tuesday ordered the release of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, the first Congolese warlord to be tried for crimes relating to the conflict, saying he could not be guaranteed a fair trial.

The ICC was established in 2002 as the permanent tribunal to deal with war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

[dpa / Expatica]

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