THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A former vice president of the Democratic Republic of Congo has pleaded not guilty to charges of interfering with the administration of justice by paying defense witnesses to give false testimony in his war crimes trial.
Jean-Pierre Bemba was among five defendants who went on trial Tuesday at the International Criminal Court charged in an alleged plot to deceive judges in Bemba's prosecution for allegedly orchestrating atrocities in the Central African Republic.
All five pleaded not guilty as the trial got underway. They face a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment and a fine if convicted.
Prosecutors say the case is crucial to safeguard the integrity of the court.
Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda says, "The principles of fairness and justice for which this institution was established have to be protected."