ICC to begin trial of Central African Republic war criminals

The trial of Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona and Alfred Yekatom, two alleged Central African Republic (CAR) war criminals, begins today at the

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Photo: Goran Tomasevic/ Reuters

The trial of Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona and Alfred Yekatom, two alleged Central African Republic (CAR) war criminals, begins today at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

Violence has plagued the CAR since the Seleka, a predominantly Muslim rebel coalition, seized power in March 2013. Yekatom and Ngaïssona were high-ranking commanders in the opposition anti-Balaka movement, comprised of Christian-dominated militias that carried out attacks against Muslims. Mahamat Said Abdel Kani, a rival Seleka commander, recently appeared before the ICC for his own trial.

The CAR is no more stable now than it was in 2014 when Ngaïssona and Yekatom (aka Rambo) are accused of committing crimes including murder, rape, torture and, in Ngaïssona’s case, “extermination.” Peace deals have repeatedly collapsed, and the CAR government has struggled to quell renewed rebel violence resulting from December’s election.

Though the start of Ngaïssona and Yekatom’s trial is a pivotal step forward in the CAR’s national healing process, ICC proceedings usually last years, meaning that the expected guilty verdict may still lie far in the future. Moreover, a trial in The Hague will likely remain far from civilian consciousness as a new wave of rebel commanders threatens to further destabilise the country.

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