Arusha, November 12, 2014 (FH) – The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Wednesday called for the conviction of former Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba, saying he had control over his forces deployed in the Central African Republic (CAR) in 2002 and 2003.

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Bemba has never denied that some elements of his MLC forces sent to the CAR in support of the country’s then president Ange-Félix Passé committed crimes.

However, the rich Congolese businessman has always claimed that he could not control MLC forces deployed across the border from his headquarters in Gbadolite.

“We have come before you today to ask that justice be done, and that the accused, Jean-Pierre Bemba, be found responsible and guilty for the suffering of the victims,” Jean-Jacques Badibanga told the Court at the beginning of closing arguments.

Bemba is charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes for having failed to stop his men committing grave human rights abuses in the CAR and not punishing them.

“The evidence is in the file that the civilian population of the Central African Republic suffered the worst kind of barbarity at the hands of Jean-Pierre Bemba’s soldiers,” said Badibanga.

“We have brought evidence that the soldiers committed these atrocities under the authority and effective command of Jean-Pierre Bemba. We have also shown that Jean-Pierre Bemba knew from the very first day that he had the power to stop them, or at least to sanction them.”

Bemba, now 52, has been detained by the ICC since 2008. He remains president of the MLC, one of the main opposition parties to current Congolese President Joseph Kabila.

Badibanga’s plea marked the start of two days of closing arguments by the two parties. On Thursday, following the closing arguments of the Defence, the judges will withdraw for deliberation.

Bemba’s trial opened on November 22, 2010, and the presentation of evidence closed on April 7 this year.

In addition to this main trial, Bemba is also accused, along with two of his lawyers, one of his party’s MPs and a witness, of witness tampering and fabricating evidence.