On 16 February 2021, the trial in the case
The Prosecutor v. Alfred Yekatom and Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona opened before Trial Chamber V of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the Central African Republic (CAR). Trial Chamber V is composed of Judge Bertram Schmitt (Presiding judge), Judge Péter Kovács, and Judge Chang-ho Chung.
The trial's opening started with the reading of the charges against the accused persons. The Chamber was satisfied that they understood the nature of the charges. Mr Yekatom and Mr Ngaïssona both pleaded not-guilty to all the charges. Mr Yekatom is represented by Principal Counsel Mylène Dimitri and Mr Ngaïssona by Principal Counsel Geert-Jan Knoops and their respective teams.
The Senior Trial Lawyer of the Office of the Prosecutor Kweku Vanderpuye then took the floor for opening statements. The hearings will continue until 18 February 2021 with the Prosecution's opening statement and the statements of the Common Legal Representatives of the Victims: Dmytro Suprun, Paolina Massidda, Abdou Dangabo Moussa, Elisabeth Rabesandratana, Yaré Fall, and Marie-Edith Douzima-Lawson, followed by the opening statements of the Defence of Mr Ngaïssona. The Defence of Mr Yekatom will make its opening statements at the beginning of the presentation of its evidence.
The trial is scheduled to resume on 15 March 2021, when the Prosecution will begin to present its evidence and call its witnesses before the judges.
Due to the current situation linked to Covid-19, some of the hearing's participants took part via video-link. The public gallery was also open to a limited number of representatives of the media, the diplomatic community, and the public.
Background: The arrest warrant for Alfred Yekatom was issued on 11 November 2018 and unsealed on 17 November 2018. He was surrendered to the ICC on 17 November 2018 and his initial appearance took place on 23 November 2018. The arrest warrant for Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona was issued on 7 December 2018. He was arrested by the authorities of the French Republic on 12 December 2018 and transferred to the ICC detention centre on 23 January 2019, upon completion of necessary national proceedings. His initial appearance took place on 25 January 2019. On 20 February 2019, Pre-Trial Chamber II joined the Yekatom and Ngaïssona cases.
The confirmation of charges hearing was held on 19-25 September and 11 October 2019. On 11 December 2019, Pre-Trial Chamber II partially confirmed 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. The public redacted version of the decision on the confirmation of charges was published on 20 December 2019.
Mr Yekatom and Mr Ngaïssona are in the Court's custody.
Photographs of the hearing
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16 February 2021
17 February 2021
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