The International Criminal Court (ICC) Monday opened a trial against Mahamat Said Abdel Kani, alleged leader of the Séléka rebel group, for crimes humanity and war crimes in violation of the Rome Statute. Said allegedly committed these crimes in Bangui, Central African Republic (CAR) in 2013. Said pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The ICC issued a warrant of arrest against Said on January 7, 2019. The Pre-Trial Chamber II partially confirmed the charges brought by the prosecutor and found that there is sufficient evidence to “establish substantial grounds of belief that Mr. Said was a senior member of the ‘Séléka’ coalition.” Said surrendered to the ICC on January 24, 2021.
Séléka is an armed movement which emerged in 2012 amid dissatisfaction with then-President François Bozizé Yangouvonda. According to the ICC, “Séléka consisted of a coalition of previously uncoordinated political factions and armed groups.” The group captured Bangui in 2013, forcing Bozizé into exile in the Republic of Cameroon, and the leader of Séléka proclaimed himself as president of CAR. The group conducted search operations for supporters of Bozizé and executed an unknown number of residents, including a pregnant woman and family members of Central African Armed Forces personnel.