Central African Republic – Ex-rebel leader on trial in The Hague – Politics

A former rebel leader from the Central African Republic has to answer before the International Criminal Court for atrocities. Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan said in The Hague on Monday that Mahamat Said Abdel Kani was responsible for seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder and torture. The 52-year-old defendant protested his innocence.

Said was a commander of the predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels who overthrew President François Bozizé in 2013. “They ruled by dictation, fear and terror,” said the prosecutor. The rebels primarily persecuted Christian citizens, raped women and girls, and arbitrarily murdered, tortured or imprisoned men.

According to the prosecution, Said ran a “torture center” in the Central African capital of Bangui. In appalling circumstances, people were held there in windowless cells, but also in an underground dungeon directly below Said’s office. According to the prosecution, prisoners were beaten with rifle butts and whipped. Numerous people had suffered serious damage and were severely traumatized.

According to the prosecution, the accused had done nothing to protect the prisoners. He also took an active part in the crimes. The prosecutors want to present numerous pieces of evidence and summon eyewitnesses, including former Seleka fighters. Said was extradited to the International Criminal Court by Central African authorities in 2021.

The mineral-rich but extremely poor country with around 4.7 million inhabitants has been the scene of conflicts for years. After the fall of Head of State Bozizé in 2013, fighting ensued with the Christian anti-Balaka militias and splinter groups. According to the United Nations, more than 60,000 people have fled to neighboring countries to escape the massive violence.

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