C.A.R. suspects to face war crimes trial at ICC

Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona (L) and Alfred Yekatom (R) are are facing charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC), The Hague, Netherlands./ PHOTO Courtesy: ICC

The Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Wednesday confirmed charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity leveled against two suspected militia leaders from the Central African Republic (C.A.R.).

Alfred Yekatom and Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona are accused of persecuting Muslims in the country between September 2013 and December 2014.

“The Chamber concluded that there are substantial grounds to believe that Alfred Yekatom and Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona are responsible for… crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed in various locations,” a statement from the Hague-based court read.

The two are accused of among other crimes; murder, rape, intentionally directing an attack against a building dedicated to religion, forcible transfer of population and displacement of the civilian population, severe deprivation of physical liberty, cruel treatment, torture, other inhumane acts and persecution.

The confirmation hearing was initially scheduled for June but was postponed at the request of the prosecution, which at the time said it needed more time to put sufficient measures in place to protect witnesses and victims.

The prosecution believes that Ngaïssona, 52, was the most senior leader and the “National General Coordinator” of the Anti-Balaka militia, whose aim was to fight the Seleka militia group.

“The decision on the confirmation of the charges only serves to determine whether the Prosecutor’s case should proceed to trial. It does not establish the guilt of the two accused persons who are presumed innocent until proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt before the Court,” the ICC’s statement said.

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