ICC takes Central African Republic war crimes suspect into custody
OSeveno, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
ICC takes Central African Republic war crimes suspect into custody

The International Criminal Court (ICC) Monday said that former militiaman Maxime Jeoffroy Eli Mokom Gawaka (Mokom), who is suspected to have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Central African Republic (CAR), has been surrendered by the Republic of Chad. 

A warrant for Mokom’s arrest was issued on December 10, 2018, when the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber II (Chamber) determined that Mokom, a citizen of the CAR, was the National Coordinator of Operations of the Anti-Balaka. In this capacity, he was suspected to have committed murder, deportation, imprisonment, torture, persecution and other crimes against humanity. He also allegedly committed war crimes by targeting civilians. Mokom allegedly committed these crimes in various CAR locations including Bangui, Bossangoa, the Lobaye Prefecture, Yaloké, Gaga, Bossemptélé, Boda, Carnot and Berberati, between December 2013 and 2014.

The ICC issued the arrest warrant against the backdrop of the Chamber’s determination that a non-international armed conflict occurred in the CAR between September 2013 and December 2014 between the Seleka and the Anti-Balaka. The Seleka is a coalition of armed groups comprising Muslims against former president François Bozizé. The Anti-Balaka is a movement in support of Bozizé and against the Seleka. The Chamber also found that an attack had been carried out by the Anti-Balaka against the Muslim civilian population, the Seleka and its supporters and others perceived to be “foreigners.” As the leader of the Anti-Balaka, Mokom allegedly committed the crimes in pursuit of “an organisational policy to target primarily the Muslim population in Bangui.”

In 2014, the CAR government referred the situation involving crimes committed by both the Seleka and the Anti-Balaka to the ICC. The ICC Prosecutor then opened an investigation. The violence allegedly caused thousands of deaths and large-scale displacement.