ICC trial of former CAR militia leaders postponed

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The new headquarters of the International Criminal Court , ICC, in The Hague, The Netherlands

The trial of two Central African Republic (CAR) rebel leaders, scheduled to open at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday, has been postponed to February 16.

Alfred Yékatom and Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona face 21 and 32 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity respectively.

Ngaïssona and Yékatom are the highest-ranking anti-balaka leaders to face trial, and the first at the ICC. The anti-balaka are Christian militias who engaged in brutal tit-for-tat attacks with the Muslim Seleka following the overthrow of President François Bozizé by the Seleka leaders.

Thousands died in subsequent clashes and the United Nations (UN) said more than a million people were forced to flee their homes.

Ngaïssona was the self-declared political co-ordinator of anti-Balaka forces.

Elise Keppler, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), said the opening of the Yékatom and Ngaïssona trial was a milestone for justice for victims of brutal crimes committed in the CAR’s most recent conflict.