International Criminal Court Commences Trial of Mahamat Said Abdel Kani For Alleged War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity in the Central African Republic
International Justice and Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
On 26 September 2022, the ICC Office of the Prosecutor initiated the trial against Mahamet Said Abdel Kaniformer Seleka (Said) commander in the Central African Republic (CAR) for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in 2013  The charges of crimes against humanity include imprisonment and other forms of severe deprivation of liberty, torture, persecution, and enforced disappearances. The war crimes charges include allegations of torture and cruel treatment. These crimes were allegedly perpetrated upon supporters of former President Francois Bozize in Bangui between April and August 2013. Said pled not guilty to all charges on the first day of trial proceedings.
The Seleka Coalition (aka Seleka Militia) was an anti-Bozize government group. In March of 2013, this group, consisting of approximately 20,000 fighters secured the CAR capital of Bangui in an attempt to overthrow the government. Bazize was forced to flee, and Michel Djotodia was installed as president of the CAR. The fighting that followed was largely drawn upon religious lines. The Seleka and the new president were Muslim. 80 percent of the population of CAR is Christian. Christian militias, who were also Bozize supporters, known as Anti-Balaka or “anti-machete” arose to fight back against the Seleka Coalition. Atrocities including murder and rape are reported to have been committed by both groups. While the CAR has largely been unstable since it gained independence from its French colonizers in 1960, this was the first time that violence occurred partially based upon religious differences.
To its credit, the ICC has sought accountability for crimes committed by both groups. Former Anti-Balaka leaders Maxime Mokom and Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona are currently in ICC custody on charges similar to those of Said. .
 Press Release, ‘Said Trial Opens at International Criminal Court’ (International Criminal Court Public Affairs Unit, 26 September 2022) <https://www.icc-cpi.int/news/said-trial-opens-international-criminal-court> accessed 29 September 2022.
 Aljazeera, ‘Chad Surrenders Central African Ex-Militia Head to ICC’ (Aljazeera, 15 March 2022) <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/3/15/chad-surrenders-central-african-ex-militia-head-to-icc> accessed 29 September 2022.