On 28 and 29 January 2021, Mahamat Said Abdel Kani appeared before Judge Rosario Salvatore Aitala, Single judge of Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court ("ICC" or "Court"). Mr Said is suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Bangui, Central African Republic (CAR), in 2013.
The Single Judge verified the identity of the suspect, and ensured that he was clearly informed of the crimes he is alleged to have committed and of his rights under the Rome Statute of the ICC in a language he fully understands and speaks, which is Sango for Mr Said.
The hearing was held in the presence of the Prosecutor and the Defence. Mr Said was represented by his Counsel Jean Pierre Madoukou and appeared via video-link from the ICC Detention Centre. Due to the current situation linked to Covid-19, some of the hearings participants took part in the hearing via video-link.
The opening of the confirmation of charges hearing was scheduled provisionally for Tuesday 5 October 2021. The purpose of the confirmation of charges procedure is to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds to believe that the person committed each of the crimes charged. If the charges are confirmed, totally or partly, the case will be transferred to a Trial Chamber, which will conduct the subsequent phase of the proceedings: the trial.
Single Judge Rosario Salvatore Aitala of Pre-Trial Chamber II during the initial appearance of Mahamat Said Abdel Kani on 28 January 2021 ©ICC-CPI
Background: When issuing the warrant of arrest, the Single Judge of Pre-Trial Chamber II, Rosario Salvatore Aitala, found that there were reasonable grounds to believe that an armed conflict not of an international character was ongoing on the territory of the CAR from at least March 2013 until at least January 2014 between the Seleka – a coalition of armed groups predominantly composed of Muslims opposed to former president François Bozizé – and the Anti-Balaka – a movement opposed to the Seleka and supportive of former president Bozizé. Moreover, the Single Judge found reasonable grounds to believe that, from at least March 2013 until at least January 2014, a widespread and systematic attack was conducted by members of the Seleka against the civilian population and those perceived to be collectively responsible for, complicit with or supportive of the former Bozizé government and, later, of the Anti-Balaka.
The Single Judge found reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Said, a national of the Central African Republic, born on 25 February 1970 in Bria, was a Seleka commander and, in this capacity, he is suspected of being responsible for the following crimes:
Mr Said is suspected of having committed these crimes jointly with others and/or through others or ordered, solicited or induced these crimes or aided, abetted or otherwise assisted in the commission of these crimes; or in any other way contributed to the commission or these crimes.
More information on this case
Photographs of the hearing
Questions and Answers on the Initial appearance: English, French, Sango
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