Former Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba has been found guilty by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of bribing witnesses.
Bemba was found guilty earlier this year of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and jailed for 18 years.
On Wednesday he was convicted of corruptly influencing witnesses and falsifying evidence in that trial. Four close aides were also found guilty.
It is the first such corruption trial in the history of the ICC in The Hague.
The court heard that Bemba had masterminded a witness corruption network from inside his prison cell during his original trial. His team used secret phones and coded language to bribe, coach and manipulate at least 14 key witnesses who came to give evidence.
The case was brought following a tip-off to the prosecutors’ office.
Delivering the verdict, Judge Bertram Schmitt said the case was “about clear, and downright criminal behaviour of the five accused… that resulted in serious offences against the administration of justice”.
“No legal system in the world can accept the bribing of witnesses, the inducement of witnesses to lie or the coaching of witnesses. Today’s judgement sends a clear message that the court is not willing to allow its proceedings to be hampered or destroyed,” he said.
Also found guilty were Bemba’s lawyer Aime Kilolo; his legal case manager Jean-Jacques Mangenda; Congolese politician Fidele Babala and Narcisse Arido, who had been a witness for the defence.