The International Criminal Court (ICC) announced on Saturday that authorities in the Central African Republic (CAR) have surrendered militia leader Alfred Yekatom for prosecution on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Yekatom is suspected of crimes committed in connection with an ongoing conflict between a predominantly Muslim coalition of armed groups called the Seleka and a predominantly Christian coalition of armed groups called the anti-balaka. According to the most recent report of the UN independent expert on the situation of human rights in CAR, more than 650,000 people have been internally displaced and nearly 600,000 have fled the country. ICC prosecutors allege that Yekatom is responsible for crimes committed by anti-balaka forces in western CAR between December 2013 and August 2014.
The ICC opened an investigation into the current conflict in September 2014. Yekatom is the first suspect transferred to the court pursuant to that investigation. A separate investigation into crimes committed in CAR in 2002 and 2003 resulted in the prosecution of former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba. In June 2018, the ICC appeals chamber acquitted Bemba on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity upon finding that his conviction was materially flawed.