A war crimes suspect wanted for alleged murder, deportation and torture of Muslims in the Central African Republic has been detained and handed over to a tribunal in the Netherlands, the court said on Saturday.
Christian militias under Alfred Yekatom, a sitting member of parliament once nicknamed “Rambo”, were found by a U.N. commission of inquiry to have carried out war crimes and crimes against humanity by targeting the CAR’s Muslim population.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) had issued an arrest warrant for Yekatom on Nov. 11 “for his alleged criminal responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in western CAR between December 2013 and August 2014,” the court said in a statement.
He is alleged to be responsible for crimes committed in this context in various locations in the CAR, including Bangui and the Lobaye Prefecture, between 5 December 2013 and August 2014
“Yekatom was surrendered to the court by the authorities of the Central African Republic,” it said.
Court judges say Yekatom is suspected of commanding around 3,000 members of an armed group operating within the Anti-Balaka movement, which was carrying out a systematic attack against the Muslim population.
“He is alleged to be responsible for crimes committed in this context in various locations in the CAR, including Bangui and the Lobaye Prefecture, between 5 December 2013 and August 2014,” the statement said.
Statement of the #ICC Prosecutor, #FatouBensouda, on the transfer of suspect, Alfred #Yekatom: “The cause of justice in the Central African Republic has been strengthened by today’s surrender” https://t.co/pAfd2E763o #CAR— Int'l Criminal Court (@IntlCrimCourt) November 17, 2018
Among the allegations in the indictment are murder, cruel treatment, deportation, imprisonment, torture, persecution, enforced disappearance, and the recruitment of child soldiers under the age of 15.
A pre-trial chamber found reasonable grounds to believe that Yekatom committed the crimes or was responsible for the crimes because he was a military commander.
Mr Alfred #Yekatom has arrived at the #ICC detention centre in the Netherlands following his transfer by the Central African Republic authorities. The date of his initial appearance before the Court will be announced soon.— Int'l Criminal Court (@IntlCrimCourt) November 17, 2018