suspected of war crimes, Mahamat Said Abdel Kani was handed over to the ICC

A former warlord within the ex-Séléka rebellion, Mahamat Said Abdel Kani was handed over by the Central African authorities to the International Criminal Court on January 24. He is accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity.



The International Criminal Court, in The Hague (Netherlands).


© Rick Bajornas / United Nations Photo
The International Criminal Court, in The Hague (Netherlands).

It was a little after midnight on January 25 when Mahamat Said Abdel Kani arrived at the detention center of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. Under a sealed arrest warrant, issued on January 7, 2019, he was handed over to the Court by the Central African authorities on January 24. Suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity, this 50-year-old man from Bria, in the province of Ndélé (North), is accused of having commanded Séléka troops in Bangui between March 2013 and January 2014 , during the conflict between this militia and the anti-balaka.

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More recently, Mahamat Said Abdel Kani would have played a role in the Popular Front for the Renaissance of the Central African Republic (FPRC), led by Noureddine Adam. Former number two of the Séléka, the latter now co-directs the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), whose troops attacked Bangui on January 13.

Adverse fields

“I welcome the transfer to the International Criminal Court of the suspect, Mr. Mahamat Said Abdel Kani, so that he can be prosecuted for his alleged crimes,” declared Fatou Bensouda, the ICC prosecutor. I am grateful to everyone who made this operation a success. My office will continue to work tirelessly to bring justice to the victims of atrocious crimes [qui ont été commis] in the Central African Republic ”.

Seized on May 30, 2014 by the Central African government, the ICC opened an investigation on September 24 into the alleged crimes of the Seleka and anti-balaka. The violence during this period is said to have resulted in the deaths of thousands of people and the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands more.

Will Faustin-Archange Touadéra facilitate the transfer to The Hague of other militia leaders?

The suspect joined in The Hague two of his compatriots, also prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity, but who were part of the opposing camp: Alfred Yekatom and Patrice-Édouard Ngaïssona, former presumed anti-balaka militia leaders, whose trial is due to open on February 9.

Cooperation

Reelected as President of the Republic on January 24 and in the first round, with nearly 54% of the vote, could Faustin-Archange Touadéra facilitate the transfer to The Hague of other militia leaders? During her third visit to Bangui since taking office, in October 2020, prosecutor Fatou Bensouda welcomed the progress of the investigations carried out by her office.

“I have always been very clear: the two parties to the conflict, the Seleka and the anti-balaka, are the subject of investigations. I wanted to make sure that this message got through to the Central African authorities, so that we could cooperate more effectively ”, she had declared to Young Africa on his return. Mahamat Said Abdel Kani is expected to appear before a judge “as soon as possible”, the court said.

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