Today, 11 December 2019, Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court ("ICC" or "Court") issued a unanimous decision partially confirming the charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity brought by the Prosecutor against Alfred Yekatom and Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona and committed them to trial before a Trial Chamber. In view of ensuring protection of victims and witnesses, the decision is confidential and a redacted version of it will be published in due course.
Pre-Trial Chamber II, composed of Judge Antoine Kesia-Mbe Mindua (Presiding Judge), Judge Tomoko Akane and Judge Rosario Salvatore Aitala, based its decision on the evidence presented by the Prosecutor and the Defence during the hearing held from 19 to 25 September and on 11 October 2019 as well as their oral and written submissions.
The Chamber found that there are substantial grounds to believe that, between September 2013 and December 2014, an armed conflict not of an international character was ongoing in the territory of the Central African Republic between the Seleka and the Anti-Balaka, both constituting organised armed groups at that time; and that the Anti-Balaka carried out a widespread attack against the Muslim civilian population, perceived – on the basis of their religious or ethnic affiliation – as complicit with, or supportive of the Seleka and therefore collectively responsible for the crimes allegedly committed by them.
With regard to M. Yekatom, the Chamber concluded that there are substantial grounds to believe that he is responsible for: (i) the war crimes of murder, cruel treatment, torture, directing attacks against the civilian population, directing attacks against a building dedicated to religion, conscription, enlistment and use of children under the age of 15 years to participate actively in hostilities, and displacement; and (ii) the crimes against humanity of murder, deportation, forcible transfer of population, imprisonment and other forms of severe deprivation of physical liberty, torture, persecution and other inhumane acts. The alleged crimes were committed in various locations in the CAR (Bangui, including Cattin; Boeing; Yamwara School and the PK9-Mbaïki Axis). The Chamber found that there are substantial grounds to believe that M. Yekatom has committed the above-mentioned crimes jointly with others or through other persons or, in the alternative, has ordered the commission of these crimes.
With regard to M. Ngaïssona, the Chamber concluded that there are substantial grounds to believe that he is responsible for: (i) the war crimes of directing attacks against the civilian population, murder, torture, cruel treatment, rape, directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, displacement of the civilian population, destroying the property of an adversary, pillaging; and (ii) the crimes against humanity of murder, deportation, forcible transfer of population, imprisonment and other forms of severe deprivation of physical liberty, torture, rape, persecution and other inhumane acts. The alleged crimes were committed in various locations in the CAR (Bangui, including Cattin; Boeing; Yamwara School; Bossangoa and the PK9-Mbaïki Axis). The Chamber found that there are substantial grounds to believe that M. Ngaïssona aided, abetted or otherwise assisted in the commission of the above-mentioned crimes or, in the alternative, has contributed in any other way to their commission by a group of persons acting with a common purpose.
The Chamber declined to confirm the remaining charges that were not supported by the evidence presented by the Prosecutor.
The decision on the confirmation of the charges only serves to determine whether the Prosecutor's case should proceed to trial. It does not establish the guilt of the two accused persons who are presumed innocent until proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt before the Court.
The Defence and the Prosecutor cannot directly appeal the decision confirming the charges. However they can request authorisation from Pre-Trial Chamber II to appeal it. The deadline for such a request will start running after the decision's translation into French is notified.
Non-authoritative summary of the decision on the confirmation of charges
Questions and Answers on the confirmation of charges
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