Jan 12, 2009

World - Congo V-P accused of using rape to intimidate civilians

THE HAGUE: War crimes prosecutors have accused former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba of using systematic rape to intimidate civilians
during a bloody power struggle in neighbouring Central Africa Republic.

Prosecutors are laying out their case against Bemba in a pre-trial hearing meant to assess whether there is enough evidence to put Bemba on trial.

In an opening statement on Monday, deputy prosecutor Fatou Bensouda previewed the testimony of one man who said he was sodomized in front of his family, then watched his wife and children abused.

Bemba is accused of eight counts of war crimes, including torture and murder, committed by his militia in a five-month conflict that began in October 2002. The defense gives its statement later Monday.

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