The Prosecutor vs Alfred Yekatom and Patrice Edouard Ngaissona
On May 30th, 2014, the Central African Republic (CAR) referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) the situation in its country, particularly in the west region due to events that had taken place between December 2013 and December 2014. The final investigation report revealed that during this period, an internal conflict opposed on the one hand the group of the armed forces “Seleka” led by Michel Djotodia to the Central African army acting under the control of President François Bozizé. A peace agreement had been signed by both factions in Libreville, Gabon, but had not been respected. The Seleka group gradually advanced towards and then took Bangui on March 24th, 2013, forcing the deposed President into exile in the Republic of Cameroon.
Michel Djotodia had proclaimed himself the new president of the CAR and a new government had been formed. During the following months, the Seleka had consolidated its control over the territory, repressing the populations associated with François Bozizé and his ethnic group, the Gbaya, and subjecting the civilian population, mainly non-Muslim, to attacks and abuses, including summary executions, rape and sexual violence, acts of torture…
In response to the coup and the ensuing situation, a self-defense group was formed in Gobere under a military structure under the name “anti-Bakala”. According to the investigation report submitted, the aims of this movement were to “(i) remove Michel Djotodia from power, defend against and oust the Seleka from the CAR and (ii) target the Muslim population in western CAR in retribution for the crimes and the abuses committed by the Seleka”. This anti-Muslim sentiment gave rise to an incendiary rhetoric that gradually turned into repression and attacks on civilian populations of the Muslim faith. All of this culminated in the attack of December 5th, 2013 against the new power. On January 10th, 2014, Michel Djotodia abdicated and a transitional government was formed, led by Catherine Samba-Panza, Interim President.
The anti-Balaka movement was recognized by the new government as early as January 2014. Commanders of anti-Balaka groups had been formally designated as zone commanders (“ComZones”) in charge of providing security on defined portions of Central African territory. Mr. Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona was the general national coordinator of the anti-Balaka and Mr. Afred Yekatom was commander of the sector covering Cattin, Boeing, Bimbo and later the Bangui-Mbaiki axis.
When Seleka forces withdrew from Bangui, the anti-Balaka movement carried out sustained and repeated attacks against Muslim civilian populations, particularly in the area under Mr. Yekatom’s control with the approbation and support of Mr. Ngaissona, forcing these people to flee their homes. On July 23rd, 2014, high-ranking Seleka commanders and the anti-Balaka leadership signed the 2014 peace agreement at the Brazzaville Summit in the Republic of Congo, which was violated shortly thereafter.
The investigation concluded that there is reason to believe that Mr. Yekatom and Mr. Ngaissona committed crimes punishable under the Rome Statute over the period spanning from December 2013 to December 2014. The Office of the Prosecutor alleges, inter alia, that the defendants were alleged to have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes in the form of murders, cruel and inhuman treatments, attacks on civilian populations and religious buildings, persecution, displacement or forcible transfer of populations, mutilation, looting or recruitment of children under the age of 15 into combat.
These charges were partially confirmed by the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber, which issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Yekatom and Mr. Ngaissona on November 11th, and December 07th, 2018 respectively. On November 17th, 2018, Mr. Yekatom surrendered voluntarily and was transferred to the Detention Center of the International Criminal Court, while Mr. Ngaissona was apprehended by French law enforcement before being surrendered to the ICC.
Arrest Warrant Alfred Yekatom-11112018.pdfArrest Warrant Patrice Edouard Ngaissona-07122018.pdf
They were both presented to the pre-trial chamber in early 2019. On February 20th, 2019, applying the principle of the proper administration of justice, the Chamber decided to join the two cases.
The confirmation of charges hearing was held in September and October 2019 and the decision was rendered on May 14th, 2020.
Confirmation of charges Yekatom and Ngaissona-14052020.pdf
The trial opened on February 16th, 2021 and is still ongoing.
This summary of the facts of this case and the proceedings is only proposed for informational purposes, does not engage Dome in any way and cannot replace the careful reading of the judgments and orders of the case.