Central African Republic: First anti-balaka trial begins at International Criminal Court after one-week postponement

The trial of two anti-balaka leaders before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for serious crimes committed in the conflict in the Central African Republic since 2012 will begin on February 16, 2021, after being postponed due to unexpected Covid-19-related circumstances, Human Rights Watch said on Monday. The trial was originally scheduled to begin on February 9.

Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona and Alfred Yékatom are the highest ranking anti-balaka leaders to face trial, and the first at the ICC. They are accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Although the ICC is conducting two investigations concerning crimes committed in the Central African Republic in the last two decades, this is the first trial of anti-balaka leaders and involving crimes in the country’s conflict since 2012. The anti-balaka are Christian militias who engaged in brutal tit-for-tat attacks with the Muslim Seleka following a coup in 2012, leaving civilians caught in the middle.

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