ICC arrests Central African Republic rebel leader over war crimes


A rebel commander from the Central African Republic (CAR) has been arrested and turned over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague by authorities in the troubled African nation, on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes in 2013.

Mahamat Said Abdel Kani, of the Seleka rebel group had surrendered on Sunday and had been arrested based on a warrant issued by the court under seal in January 07 2019, ICC said in a statement.

A date for his initial appearance in The Hague has not yet been set.

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 in March 2013.

Their brutal rule gave rise to the opposing “anti-balaka” Christian militias, several of whose former leaders also face charges at the ICC.

The arrest comes against the backdrop of a state of emergency in the Central African Republic, with fighting between the country’s army, backed by UN, Russian and Rwandan troops, and rebels seeking to overturn a Dec. 27 vote in which President Faustin-Archange Touadera was declared the winner.

A judge for the court said there was a reasonable ground to believe that Said, 50, was responsible for crimes including torture, persecutions, enforced disappearances and other inhumane acts.

“I welcome today’s transfer of the suspect, Mr. Mahamat Saïd 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.” (Source: CNA)