By Susan Kendi
The Prosecutor of the
International Criminal Court is requesting to amend the charges against Patrice-Edouard
Ngaïssona to include rape and to add two additional charges, rape as a war
crime and sexual slavery, against Alfred Rombhot Yekatom.
Fatou Bensouda is additionally
seeking to correct the confirmed count 40 against Ngaïssona, clarifying that
this charge relates to rape as a crime against humanity and not as a war crime.
In the revision of
charges against Ngaïssona, Bensouda wants the court to include and confirm
additional evidence from a second victim of rape in the document containing the
charges. This is after the prosecution obtained a detailed statement from the
victim that meets the threshold for confirmation of the charge.
In the past after
examination of facts and circumstances, the Pre-Trial Chamber II found that the
evidence supporting the second instance did not meet the required standards of
In the March 31, 2020
filing, the prosecution argues that the statement they acquired between
February 12 and 14, 2020 is relevant as it provides a first-hand record of the
rape linked to the Anti-Balaka December 5, 2013 attack on Bossangoa.
The amendment of
Ngaïssona’s charges before the start of his trial will not harm his defence,
the Prosecution argues, but aid the accused to understand the scope of the
charges against him.
In the case against Yekatom,
the prosecution said that the two charges of rape as a war crime and sexual
slavery fall within the scope of the confirmed charges. Bensouda added that
they will reveal supporting evidence to the charges once the necessary security
measures are in place.
The Government of the Central African Republic referred
this second situation to the ICC prosecutor on May 30, 2014. The referral
involved alleged crimes committed by the Seleka and Anti-Balaka leading to the
deaths of thousands and leaving hundreds of thousands displaced.
Four months later, Fatou Bensouda opened an
investigation in the country.
The Central African Republic has had two referrals. The
ICC opened the first investigation in 2007 looking into the crimes committed in
CAR between October 2002 and March 2003.The investigation paved way for a case
against Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo who was later acquitted. The second
investigation was opened in September 2014 with respect to crimes allegedly
committed since 2012 bringing charges against Yekatom and Ngaïssona.
The chamber issued an arrest warrant against Yekatom on
November 11, 2018, he was then surrendered to the Court of last resort by the
Central African Republic authorities and appeared before Pre-Trial Chamber II
on November 23, 2018.
The court also issued an arrest warrant against
Ngaïssona in December 2018. He was transferred to The Hague by French
authorities a month later, following the completion of national proceedings in
France. He then appeared before the ICC on January 25, 2019.
The Pre-trial Chamber II
joined the two cases against Yekatom and Ngaïssona to avoid “the duplication of
evidence, inconsistency in the presentation and assessment of evidence, undue
impact on witnesses and victims, and unnecessary expense.”
The confirmation hearing was held on September 19, 2019
after a postponement upon prosecution’s request asking for additional time to
put in place measures to protect witnesses and victims.
Both Alfred Yekatom and Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona are
alleged to be responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed
in the Central African Republic between December 2013 and August 2014.
The Anti-Balaka militia are alleged to have targeted
the Muslim civilian population as a form of vengeance for the crimes committed
by the Seleka, a predominantly Muslim militia group.