An alleged leader of a rebel faction in the Central African Republic (CAR) will go on trial to face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the International Criminal Court (ICC) said on Thursday.
The charges levied by prosecutors against the alleged former head of the "Seleka" faction, Mahamat Said Abdel Kani, include the torturing of prisoners.
ICC: Evidence of criminal acts as Seleka leader
An ICC statement said judges had unearthed "sufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds to believe that Mr. Said was a senior member of the Seleka coalition and is criminally responsible" for crimes in the CAR capital of Bangui, between April 12 and August 30, 2013.
The ICC "partially confirms the charges and commits the suspect to trial," the Hague-based court said.
Sectarian violence in one of the world's poorest countries
One of the poorest countries in the world, the CAR has been mired in violence since 2013 when president Francois Bozize was ousted by the "Seleka" which was largely comprised of the Muslim minority within the country.
The coup triggered sectarian slaughters between the Muslim minority group and "anti-Balaka" forces — Christian militias — several of whose former leaders also face ICC charges.
An ICC arrest warrant was issued under seal on January 7, 2019 and he was transferred to The Hague one year later.
Said's lawyers have said they will prove his innocence.
Six decades of strife
Earlier this year, the CAR marked 60 years of independence but its people had little to celebrate, considering the levels of poverty, strife and now hunger exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic
jsi/wd (AFP, Reuters)