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C.Africa war crimes suspect handed to ICC: court

Published on January 24, 2021

The Central African Republic on Sunday handed over an alleged militia commander to the International Criminal Court to face accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the tribunal said.

Mahamat Said Abdel Kani, 50, was an alleged leader of the Seleka, a rebel coalition drawn largely from the Muslim majority, during violence in the country in 2013, the Hague-based ICC said in a statement.

The bloodshed pitted the Seleka against the mainly Christian vigilante self-defence groups supportive of former president Francois Bozize known as anti-Balaka, which means anti-machete.

The ICC said that Said “was surrendered” by authorities in Bangui to the custody of the court on the basis of a sealed warrant issued by one of the tribunal’s judges in 2019.

He is suspected of the crimes against humanity of imprisonment, torture, persecution, enforced disappearance, and other inhumane acts; and the war crimes of torture and cruel treatment, the court said.

Said has not yet been transferred to the court in the Dutch city of The Hague, an ICC spokesman said. Reports said he was due to arrive in the Netherlands on Monday.

The former French colony spiralled into sectarian conflict in 2013 following the ouster of former leader Bozize and remains in turmoil.

Two other suspects in the violence in the Central African Republic are currently on trial at the ICC.

Former anti-Balaka chief Alfred Yekatom, accused of crimes against humanity, was handed over to the ICC in 2018.

He was joined in 2019 by CAR football chief Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona, arrested on an ICC warrant that described him as the “most senior leader” of the anti-Balaka.