The trial of former Congolese rebel warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba on charges of murder, rape and pillage in the Central African Republic will start next April, International Criminal Court (ICC) judges said.
Bemba, the defeated contender in Democratic Republic of Congo’s 2006 presidential election, is accused by the ICC of leading Congolese rebels who waged a campaign of rape and torture in Central African Republic in 2002/2003.
Announcing his trial date of April 27, 2010, the ICC said in a statement that Bemba is charged with two crimes against humanity, involving murder and rape, and three war crimes, which involve pillaging as well as murder and rape.
Bemba, whose 2006 election defeat by Joseph Kabila turned him into Congo’s most prominent opposition figure, fled into exile in 2007 saying he feared for his life.
He was arrested by Belgian authorities in May 2008 and was transferred to the ICC in July of that year.
He is currently detained at a centre in The Hague.
Established in 2002, the International Criminal Court is the world’s first permanent war crimes court set up to try individuals for war crimes and genocide.