The Chadian authorities on Monday handed over a former Central African Republic militia leader to the International Criminal Court on suspicion of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the Hague-based court said.
Maxime Jeoffroy Eli Mokom Gawaka is suspected of crimes committed in 2013 and 2014 “in Bangui and other locations in the Central African Republic,” the ICC said in a statement.
Mokom was an “anti-Balaka” group leader, vigilantes from the CAR’s Christian and animist majority. In 2019, he became the country’s minister for Disarmament, Demobilisation, Reintegration and Repatriation (DDRR).
The ICC has “found reasonable grounds” to suspect that Mokom, in his capacity as a “National Coordinator of Operations of the Anti-Balaka”, was responsible for crimes against humanity, including murder, torture, persecution and “enforced disappearance”, the court said in its statement.
On the war crimes front, he is suspected of, among other things, “intentionally directing an attack against the civilian population” and an attack against humanitarian assistance personnel as well as enlisting fighters as young as 15.
One of the poorest countries in the world, the CAR spiralled into conflict in 2013 when president Francois Bozize was ousted by a rebel coalition called the Seleka, drawn largely from the Muslim minority.
The coup triggered a sectarian bloodbath between “anti-Balaka” forces and Seleka rebels.
Two former anti-Balaka leaders, Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona and Alfred Yekatom, are already on trial at the ICC.
An alleged Seleka leader will go on trial at the ICC in September to face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.