International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutors stated on Thursday that they have attempted to withdraw all charges against Maxime Mokom, a former minister of disarmament in the Central African Republic (CAR). Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan submitted a notice to the court’s pre-trial chamber on October 16, trying to drop the charges during the pre-trial phase of Mokom’s case because “there are no longer any reasonable prospects of conviction at trial even if the charges were confirmed.”
Mokom was alleged to be the former National Coordinator of Operations of the Anti-Balaka militia alliance and was charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity as he was accused of being connected to several acts of violence against the CAR’s Muslim civilian population during 2013 and 2014, including ordering attacking civilians, forcible transfer and deprivation of personal liberty. Mokom denied any connection with the crimes that he was charged with and claimed that he had fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo before returning to the CAR in 2014.
The prosecution states that changed circumstances and a lack of evidence linking Mokom to the crimes are behind the reduced prospects for conviction.
According to Article 61(4) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, a prosecutor may withdraw any charges before the hearing and shall inform the court’s pre-trial chamber of the reasons for the withdrawal. Article 61(9) of the Rome Statute stipulates that after the commencement of the trial, the prosecutor may, with the permission of the trial chamber, withdraw the charges.
Khan’s notice to the pre-trial chamber asserts that since “the confirmation hearing is still ongoing, and the charges have not yet been confirmed … it remains the prerogative of the Prosecutor to withdraw the charges.” However, if the chamber finds that permission is required, the prosecution seeks the chamber’s permission under Article 61(9) of the Rome Statute.