ICC May Try Central African Republic Rebel Leader for War Crimes
The pre-trial hearing of a top Central African Republic rebel leader got under way at the International Criminal Court on Tuesday, a precursor to a possible first attempt of its kind to hold the perpetrators of widespread atrocities in the nation accountable.
Mahamat Said Abdel Kani stands accused of leading a faction of Seleka, an armed group drawn largely from the Muslim minority that allegedly committed crimes against humanity and war crimes, including torture, in 2013. The government last year handed him over to the Hague-based ICC, which is now deciding whether to pursue a case against him.
Several other high-ranking rebel leaders whose forces were implicated in attacking civilians and United Nations peacekeeping troops have been appointed to senior government positions, giving them sway over large tracts of the diamond- and gold-rich nation. Human Rights Watch has called for them and other militia members to also face trial.
“For the ICC to deliver meaningful justice, it will need to pursue higher-level suspects,” the U.S.-based watchdog said in a statement on its website on Tuesday.
Fighting has persisted in the Central African Republic since 2012, when Seleka rebels from the northeast attacked the capital Bangui and overthrew then-President Francois Bozize. UN, Russian and Rwandan troops have been deployed to support government efforts to suppress the rebels and militia groups.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.