Germain Katanga, a rebel commander from the Democratic Republic of Congo, has been sentenced to 12 years in jail by the the International Criminal Court for arming an ethnic group that carried out a 2003 village massacre.

"The chamber sentences Germain Katanga to 12 years in prison," presiding Judge Bruno Cotte told the Hague-based court on Friday in its second sentencing since opening in 2003.

The almost seven years that Katanga has already spend in detention will be deducted from the sentence, he said.

Katanga was found guilty of having procured the weapons - including guns and machetes - used in the massacre, but was cleared of direct involvement. He was found not guilty of rape, sexual slavery and using child soldiers.

The Coalition for the International Criminal Court, a global network of civil society groups, welcomed the sentence as a step towards ending impunity.

“With this sentence, victims of the attack on Bogoro village have obtained a measure of important justice for the crimes committed against them, their families and fellow citizens,” said William Pace, the coalition convenor.

"Judges are now to decide on reparations that will help rehabilitate victims, their families and affected communities, allowing them to move forward from the crimes they suffered.”

But Catherine Denis, from the victims' legal team, said many victims were not going to understand how Katanga was given such a short sentence.

Earlier in May, the prosecution asked that judges sentence Katanga to 22 to 25 years imprisonment, arguing the sentence had to be severe enough to provide justice to victims. 

The defence had sought leniency, providing evidence that Katanga had been involved in the local peace processes.

Both the prosecution and defence have appealed against the conviction, and can also appeal against the sentence decision.

Congolese authorities arrested and surrendered the 36-year-old to the ICC in 2007.

The court's first conviction was passed in 2012, to DR Congo's Thomas Lubanga for using child soldiers.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies