DR Congo court gives rebel turned general 10 years for war crimes

Congolese general Jerome Kakwavu (R) stands during his trial on November 7, 2014 at the military High court in Kinshasa (AFP Photo/Papy Mulongo) (AFP)

Kinshasa (AFP) - A top Congolese military court on Friday sentenced an former rebel leader turned army general to 10 years in jail for war crimes.

The court ruled that general Jerome Kakwavu was guilty of committing serious violations including the repeated rapes of two females, two murders and acts of torture on two other people.

He had also failed to take "necessary measures" to prevent and stop "war crimes by murder ... committed by men under his command."

The court issued a tougher sentence than sought by the public prosecutor, who had demanded eight years.

Kakwavu is the highest ranking national army officer to be convicted for war crimes since the start of the first Congo War in 1996.

The crimes were committed between 2003 and 2004, when Kakwavu led the Armed Forces of the Congolese People (FAPC), one of many militias fighting in the northeastern Ituri region from 1999 to 2007 over the division of natural resources.

He became an army general by presidential decree when his rebel group was integrated into the military in December 2004. He was arrested shortly afterwards.

Violence has plagued eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for the past decades, as rival militia seek control over a region rich in minerals, diamonds and timber.