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Central African Republic: Militia Commander Mahamat Said Abdel Kani Handed Over To ICC For Prosecution

The Central African Republic (CAR) has handed over former militia commander Mahamat Said Abdel Kani suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In a statement on Sunday, the court said authorities in CAR handed over Mahamat Said Abdel Kani, a leader of the Seleka faction, on account of an ICC arrest warrant issued under seal on January 7, 2019. The warrant relates to alleged crimes committed in the country’s capital, Bangui, in 2013.

Seleka is a coalition of armed groups predominantly composed of Muslims opposed to former president François Bozizé – and the Anti-Balaka – a movement opposed to the Seleka and supportive of former President Bozizé.

The ICC has found reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Said, a national of the Central African Republic, born on 25 February 1970 in Bria, was a Seleka commander and, in this capacity, he is suspected of being responsible for crimes against humanity like imprisonment, torture, enforced disappearance, persecution and other inhumane acts, as well as o war crimes involving torture and cruel treatment.

Mr. Said is suspected of having committed these crimes jointly with others and/or through others or ordered, solicited or induced these crimes or aided, abetted or otherwise assisted in the commission of these crimes; or in any other way contributed to the commission or these crimes.

“I welcome today’s transfer of the suspect, Mr Mahamat Said Abdel Kani … to face justice for his alleged crimes as charged before the ICC,” said prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in a statement.

“As I have previously stated, my office will relentlessly pursue justice for the victims of atrocities in the Central African Republic … irrespective of which side of the conflict they may be on.”

Two other suspects in the violence in the CAR 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.

The Central African Republic has been mired in violence since a coalition of mostly northern and predominantly Muslim rebels known as Seleka, or “alliance” in the Sango language, seized power from then-President Francois Bozize in March 2013. Their brutal rule gave rise to the opposing Anti-balaka Christian militias, several of the group’s former leaders also face charges at the ICC.

The violence left thousands dead and displaced hundreds of thousands more.

NEWS/PHOTO SOURCE: Al Jazeera | ICC

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