Congolese politician to appeal 18-year war crimes sentence: court document

September 28, 2016 2:34 PM EDT

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THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Congolese politician Jean-Pierre Bemba will appeal his conviction for overseeing a campaign of rape and murder in the Central African Republic, according to a document released by the International Criminal Court on Wednesday.

Bemba, sentenced to 18 years in prison in June, is the highest-ranking politician to be convicted by the global war crimes court.

The former vice-president of the Democratic Republic of Congo is the first person the court has held directly responsible for his subordinates' crimes.

In the almost 200-page document, Bemba's lawyers call the proceedings against him a mistrial and allege that his "rights to a fair trial were violated".

Judges ruled that the politician failed to discipline or restrain soldiers of his Movement for the Liberation of Congo as they rampaged through the neighbouring Central African Republic in 2002 and 2003.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by Anthony Deutsch and Andrew Roche)



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