World

ICC convicts former Congo VP of interfering with witnesses

  • In this Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015 file photo former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba looks up when sitting in the court room of the International Criminal Court. The Court convicted Bemba and four members of his legal team on Wednesday Oct. 19, 2016, of interfering with witnesses, saying the case should send a clear message that attempting to corrupt trials will not go unpunished. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

    In this Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015 file photo former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba looks up when sitting in the court room of the International Criminal Court. The Court convicted Bemba and four members of his legal team on Wednesday Oct. 19, 2016, of interfering with witnesses, saying the case should send a clear message that attempting to corrupt trials will not go unpunished. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)  (The Associated Press)

  • Aimé Kilolo Musamba of Belgium, right, waits in the court room where International Criminal Court judges delivered verdicts against former Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba and members of his legal team for allegedly interfering with witnesses in Bemba's war crimes trial, in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (Michael Kooren via AP)

    Aimé Kilolo Musamba of Belgium, right, waits in the court room where International Criminal Court judges delivered verdicts against former Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba and members of his legal team for allegedly interfering with witnesses in Bemba's war crimes trial, in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (Michael Kooren via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Narcisse Arido of the Central African Republic, right, sits in the court room of the International Criminal Court where judges delivered verdicts against former Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba and members of his legal team for allegedly interfering with witnesses in Bemba's war crimes trial, in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (Michael Kooren via AP)

    Narcisse Arido of the Central African Republic, right, sits in the court room of the International Criminal Court where judges delivered verdicts against former Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba and members of his legal team for allegedly interfering with witnesses in Bemba's war crimes trial, in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (Michael Kooren via AP)  (The Associated Press)

The International Criminal Court has convicted a former Congolese vice-president and four members of his legal team of interfering with witnesses.

The verdicts Wednesday against Jean-Pierre Bemba and his legal team marked the first time the global court has found suspects guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Presiding Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut underscored the importance of the ruling, saying "It has become apparent in the short time span of the court's existence that preventing offenses against the administration of justice is of the utmost importance."

Bemba's attempts to influence his trial ultimately failed. Earlier this year he was convicted and sentenced to 18 years imprisonment for commanding a militia that went on a deadly rampage in the Central African Republic in 2002-2003.