THE HAGUE: Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court today said a former militia leader played a key role in coordinating attacks on Muslim civilians in the Central African Republic (CAR).
Maxime Jeoffroy Eli Mokom Gawaka was handed over to the court in March 2022. A former national coordinator of so-called anti-balaka militias, he is accused of violently targeting the Muslim civilian population in 2013 and 2014.
“He was the one who looked for ammunition, coordinated the deployment of anti-balaka in the prefectures and oversaw the attacks,” prosecutor Mame Mandiaye Niang said.
The CAR has been mired in violence since a coalition of mostly northern and predominantly Muslim rebels known as Seleka, or “Alliance” in the Sango language, seized power in March 2013. Their dominance gave rise to the opposing anti-balaka Christian militias.
Prosecutors say the anti-balaka killed hundreds of Muslim civilians and forced thousands to leave their homes.
The ICC has been investigating the violence in the CAR since May 2014. There are already two ongoing trials before the court involving two other anti-balaka leaders and one Seleka leader.
Today’s hearing is for prosecutors to prove there are substantial grounds to formally charge Mokom with 20 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity including murder, rape, persecution, and deportation.
Mokom has not commented publicly on the charges since he has been in ICC custody but is expected to speak in court later today.