Congolese ex-rebel leader, Jean-Pierre Bemba, has been jailed for 18 years following a landmark conviction at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and sexual violence.
Bemba, a former vice-president of DR Congo, was convicted in March of crimes committed in the neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR) in 2002-2003, the BBC reports.
He was accused of failing to stop his rebels from killing and raping people.
Bemba’s lawyers have already said they will appeal against his conviction.
Judges announced sentences of between 16 and 18 years for five counts of rape, murder and pillaging, with the jail terms running concurrently.
The eight years Bemba has already spent in custody will be deducted from his term.
His conviction was the first time the ICC had focused on rape as a weapon of war, and the first time a suspect had been convicted for crimes committed by others under his command.
Passing sentence at the ICC in The Hague, Judge Sylvia Steiner said Bemba had failed to exercise control over his private militia sent into CAR, where they carried out “sadistic” rapes, murders and pillaging of “particular cruelty.”
The BBC says two key issues remain – where Bemba will serve his sentence and the amount of compensation to be awarded to his victims.