ICC opens the confirmation of charges hearing in Said case

A wooden gavel used by judges in courtrooms A wooden gavel used by judges in courtrooms Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

11 October 2021

The case against higher-level Seleka constitutes an important milestone in advancing justice in the Central African Republic

Commencing on Tuesday 12 October, the pretrial hearing in the case against Mahamat Said Abdel Kani, a former commander of the Seleka rebel group, is now open. It is the first case brought against a Seleka member. Mr. Said is suspected of being responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly perpetrated in Bangui, Central African Republic (CAR), in 2013. Some of the atrocities committed would include imprisonment, persecution, enforced disappearance, torture and cruel treatment. 

The CAR has been suffering an acute crisis since March 2013, when the Seleka armed group, a predominantly Muslim rebel coalition, seized power and began committing grave human rights abuses, including the killing of civilians as well as arson and looting of their homes. During the same year, Christian and anti-balaka fighters joined forces to attack the Seleka, likewise committing unlawful attacks against Muslim civilians. In 2014, the CAR government formally requested the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate and prosecute serious crimes perpetrated in the country. The ICC is currently operating alongside the Special Criminal Court (SCC), a domestic war crimes tribunal made up of international experts and Central African staff. The ICC confirmation of charges hearing is the culmination of the pre-trial stage. Its purpose is to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds to believe that the person committed the alleged crimes. If the charges are confirmed, the case will be sent to the Trial Chamber, which will conduct the trial proceedings.

So far, Said is the only Seleka commander facing charges at the ICC. The beginning of the confirmation of charges hearing represents a necessary step to obtain justice in the CAR. Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go: other higher-level members are alleged to have been involved in the commission and perpetuation of crimes, and many of them are still accused of continuing to carry out further abuses. 


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Author: Antonella Candiago; Editor: Xavier Atkins

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