Central African Republic special court sentences three for crimes against humanity

Source: RFI
Issued on: 31/10/2022 - 12:48 Modified: 31/10/2022 - 12:46
Central African Republic AFP

Bangui (Central African Republic) (AFP) – A court in the Central African Republic (CAR) in a historic ruling on Monday convicted three militiamen for crimes against humanity and handed them jail terms ranging from 20 years to life.

Issa Sallet Adoum, Ousman Yaouba and Tahir Mahamat were accused of taking part in an attack by the 3R armed group in May 2019 in which 46 villagers in northwest CAR were massacred.

The Special Criminal Court, a tribunal of local and international judges, sentenced Adoum to life and the others to 20 years after its first-ever trial.

One of the poorest and most volatile countries in the world, CAR plunged into civil war in 2013 largely along sectarian lines.

Violence fell back in intensity in 2018 but as recently as early 2021, two-thirds of the country lay in the hands of armed groups spawned in the conflict.

The mandate of the special court applies to war crimes and crimes against humanity dating back to 2003.

The court was set up in 2015 with UN backing but struggled for years to get going in the face of logistical hurdles, lack of money and local hostility.

After a faltering start, its first trial opened in April to a panel of national and international judges, with prosecutors from the Democratic Republic of Congo, France and Togo.

The 3R (Return, Reclamation and Rehabilitation) is one of the CAR's most powerful armed groups, drawn mainly from the Fulani ethnic group, also called Peuls.

Prosecutors in August had requested life terms for the three.

In a statement, the court said the trio were guilty of murder, inhumane acts and humiliating and degrading treatment.

Adoum, as "military chief," was additionally convicted over rapes committed by subordinates and of war crimes.

The three were acquitted on charges of torture committed as a crime of war.

Mahamat, who protested his innocence, went on hunger strike three weeks earlier. He was brought in for sentencing on a stretcher, an AFP journalist saw.

The defendants have three days in which to appeal.

© 2022 AFP