Prosecutors for the International Criminal Court (ICC) will ask judges to put a former militia commander on trial for allegedly organizing revenge killings against Muslims in the Central African Republic (CAR).
In a three-day hearing at The Hague-based ICC beginning on Tuesday, Prosecutors will argue whether there is enough evidence to charge Maxime Mokom for his alleged role in directing murder, rape, pillaging, and property destruction, as well as attacks on religious buildings, including mosques.
Mokom, 44, is charged with 20 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for atrocities committed in 2013 and 2014 by his self-proclaimed self-defense militias.
The Central African Republic 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.
The warlord is accused of directly supporting anti-Balaka military operations with funds, arms, medication, and ammunition.
More than 100,000 Muslim residents were forced to escape Bangui across the border to neighboring Cameroon and Chad as a result of the militia attacks.
Anti-Balaka attacks continued on Muslim civilians even after Seleka forces retreated from Bangui, until at least December 2014. Both sides have been accused of crimes and abuses against civilians by international NGOs and UN-mandated experts.
Chadian authorities turned over Mokom to the ICC last year, which issued an arrest order for him in 2018.
Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona and Alfred Yekatom, former anti-Balaka leaders, are already on trial at the ICC.
Prosecutors allege that in 2013 and 2014, Ngaissona, a former African football executive, was a top leader of anti-Balaka militias. Yekatom, popularly known as Rambo, pleaded not guilty to charges of targeting Muslim citizens.