CAR: Alleged militia commander on ICC trial

APA - Bangui (Central African Rep.)

The trial of Mahamat Said Abdel Kani began Monday, September 26, 2022 in The Hague, Netherlands, before the Trial Chamber VI of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Petitioned on May 30, 2014 by the Central African Republic to open an investigation into all crimes committed on its territory since August 1, 2012, the International Criminal Court (ICC) complied on September 24, 2014. The Office of the Prosecutor then focused on allegations of crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction committed by the Seleka and anti-Balaka armed groups.

The investigations, which are still underway, have already led to the arrest of four individuals: Alfred Yekatom, Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona, Maxime Jeoffroy Eli Mokom Gawaka and Mahamat Said Abdel Kani. The latter appears today before the Trial Chamber VI of the ICC.

Mahamat Said Abdel Kani is an alleged commander of the Seleka, a Muslim-dominated rebel coalition that ousted Central African President François Bozize from power in March 2013; a coup that plunged that country into civil war. A bloody battle pitted the Seleka against the anti-Balaka, who were close to the deposed president and were mostly Christians and animists.

In this conflict, Mahamat Said Abdel Kani is accused of “crimes against humanity (imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty, torture, persecution, enforced disappearance and other inhumane acts), and war crimes (torture and cruel treatment) allegedly committed in Bangui (Central African Republic) in 2013,” an ICC document reads.

A total of 43 witnesses are expected to be called by the prosecution. The judges will render their ruling within a reasonable time after the hearings. “The Trial Chamber will only convict someone if it is satisfied that the charges have been proven beyond reasonable doubt. The judgment will be read out in public and the accused will be acquitted or found guilty; if found guilty, a sentence will be imposed. The prosecution and the defense may appeal the judgment and/or the sentencing decision to the ICC Appeals Chamber,” The Hague-based court said.

Composed of judges Miatta Maria Samba (president), Socorro Flores Liera and Sergio Gerardo Ugalde Godínez, the ICC Trial Chamber VI may impose a sentence of imprisonment, to which may be added a fine or the confiscation of profits, property and assets derived directly or indirectly from the crime committed.

However, “the maximum sentence that can be imposed is 30 years imprisonment. But in extreme cases, and in particular in view of the particular circumstances of the convicted person, the Court may impose a sentence of life imprisonment. The ICC does not provide for the death penalty upon conviction. The prosecution and defense may appeal the sentencing decision to the ICC Appeals Chamber,” the document said.

Mahamat Said Abdel Kani, also known as Mahamat Said Abdel Kain, Mahamat Said Abdelkani, or Mr. Said, was born on February 25, 1970, in Bria, in the east of the Central African Republic. Currently 52 years old, he is believed to have been a commander of the Seleka militia.


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