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Central African militia leaders plead not guilty to war crimes in ICC trial | News Central African Republic

Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona and Alfred Yekatom accused of leading militias in widespread attacks against Muslims.

Two men accused of leading Christian-dominated militias in widespread attacks on Muslims in the Central African Republic (CAR) dismissed all charges against them at the start of their trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday.

Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona, a former African football executive who prosecutors said was a top leader of the so-called anti-balaka militias in 2013 and 2014, and Alfred Yekatom, also known as Rambo, have pleaded not guilty charges related to attacks on Muslims. civilians.

“I do not see myself at all in the charges against me. I am not guilty, ”said Ngaissona, 53.

The former sports minister has been charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, persecution and torture.

Prosecutors said Ngaissona was an integral part of the anti-balaka movement.

“He knew that the group he was helping to arm, finance, train and organize, known in September 2013 as the Anti-balaka, would inevitably target the civilian Muslim population in western CAR. He knew the revenge in them, ”prosecutor Kweku Vanderpuye told the court.

Yekatom, 46, faces similar charges against Ngaissona, as well as others for his alleged use of child soldiers.

Prosecutors said Ngaissona was an integral part of the anti-balaka movement [Koen van Weel/Pool/AFP]

Prosecutors showed posts from Facebook pages and newsgroups set up by anti-balaka groups talking about “sacrificing” Muslims and saying they “will soon be gone.”

The trial began amid fighting between the Central African army, supported by United Nations troops, Russian and Rwandan, and rebels from the two militias who formed an alliance to capture the capital and ‘annul the vote of December 27 won by the president. Faustin-Archange Touadera.

After initial criticism that its investigation into CAR was one-sided, with only anti-balaka leaders in the dock, the ICC announced in January that it had arrested alleged Seleka leader Mahamat Said Abdel Kain.

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