Alfred Yekatom appeared before Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or “Court”), at the seat of the ICC in The Hague (The Netherlands).
Pre-Trial Chamber II is composed of Judge Antoine Kesia‐Mbe Mindua, Presiding, Judge Tomoko Akane and Judge Rosario Salvatore Aitala. The hearing was held in the presence of the Prosecutor and the Defence. Mr. Yekatom was represented by the Office of Public Counsel for the Defence.
The Chamber verified the identity of the suspect, and ensured that he was clearly informed of the crimes he is alleged to have committed and of his rights under the Rome Statute of the ICC in a language he fully understands and speaks, in this case, Sango. The opening of the confirmation of charges hearing was scheduled for 30 April 2019.
The purpose of the confirmation of charges hearing is to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds to believe that the person committed each of the crimes charged. If the charges are confirmed, totally or partly, the case will be transferred to a Trial Chamber, which will conduct the subsequent phase of the proceedings: the trial.
Background: Mr. Yekatom was surrendered to the ICC on 17 November 2018 following a warrant of arrest issued on 11 November 2018 for his alleged criminal responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the western Central African Republic (“CAR”) between December 2013 and August 2014.
Pre-Trial Chamber II was satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that an armed conflict not of an international character was ongoing on the territory of the CAR since at least September 2013 until at least December 2014 between the Seleka – a coalition of armed groups predominantly composed of Muslims – and the Anti-Balaka – a predominantly Christian countermovement to the Seleka. The Chamber also found that there are reasonable grounds to believe that, from at least September 2013 until at least December 2014, a widespread and systematic attack was carried out by the Anti-Balaka against the Muslim civilian population and anyone perceived to support the Seleka.
Mr. Yekatom was allegedly commanding a group of around 3,000 members which operated within the Anti-Balaka movement. 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, as follows:
- crimes against humanity: murder, deportation or forcible transfer of population, imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty, torture, persecution, enforced disappearance and other inhumane acts; and
- war crimes: murder, torture and cruel treatment, mutilation, intentional attack against the civilian population, intentional attack against buildings dedicated to religion, enlistment of children under the age of 15 years and their use to participate actively in hostilities, displacement of the civilian population and destruction of the adversary’s property.
Pre-Trial Chamber II found reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Yekatom committed or otherwise ordered, solicited, induced and facilitated the commission of the above mentioned crimes. The Chamber also found reasonable grounds to believe that he is responsible as a military commander.
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Video : First appearance – entire hearing