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.