The war crimes trial of former Congolese rebel and vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo will start next April, the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced on Thursday.
Bemba, the defeated contender in Democratic Republic of Congo's 2006 presidential election, is accused by the ICC of leading Congolese rebels who waged a campaign of rape and torture in Central African Republic in 2002-2003.
Announcing his trial date of 27 April 2010, the ICC said in a statement that Bemba is charged with two crimes against humanity, involving murder and rape, and three war crimes, which involve pillaging as well as murder and rape.
Bemba, whose 2006 election defeat by Joseph Kabila turned him into Congo's most prominent opposition figure, fled into exile in 2007 saying he feared for his life.
He was arrested by Belgian authorities in May 2008 and was transferred to the ICC in July of that year.
He is currently awaiting his trial in The Hague.