(GIN) – The International Criminal Court is preparing the ground for a determination of reparations owed to over 5,000 victims of atrocities that were committed in the Central African Republic.

The atrocities were carried out by troops under former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba and took place between October 2002 and March 2003. Sentenced to 18 years in jail on war crimes offenses, Bemba is appealing the sentence.

Most of the victims “have lost everything, and continue to live with the physical and psychological consequences of the crimes, horrors and traumas they experienced,” said a rights organization.

According to the International Federation for Human Rights, most victims want to see individual damages rather than a collective award for communities ravaged by Bemba’s private militia.

Bemba, now 55, sent in 1,500 troops from his Congolese Liberation Movement to quash a coup in the CAR.

But they unleashed a five-month reign of terror, with the court handing down its toughest penalty for sadistic, cruel rapes and murders.

Bemba’s case was the first at the ICC to focus on rape as a weapon of war and the first to highlight a military commander’s responsibility for the conduct of the troops under his control.

In one of its two previous reparations awards, war crimes judges said in August that a Malian jihadist was liable for 2.7 million euros for destroying Timbuktu’s fabled shrines in 2012. The jihadist unfortunately is penniless and unable to make payment for the destruction. w/pix of J-P Bemba