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Trial of former C.African rebel Mahamat Said begins at the Hague

The former Central African Republic leader Mahamat Said Abdel Kani   -  
Copyright © africanews
Oduor, Michael/

Netherlands

The former Central African Republic leader Mahamat Said Abdel Kani on Tuesday appeared before the International Criminal Court on war crimes and crimes against humanity charges.

Mahamat Said Abdel Kani, an alleged leader of the Seleka, a rebel coalition drawn largely from the CAR's Muslim minority, is accused of running two detention centres during the country's brutal 2013 civil war.

"It is a detention case and we say the evidence overwhelmingly shows that Mr Said was in the room where it happened. The hole below is the location where many of those unfortunate souls were placed in terrible conditions without toilet, food or any type of care," Karim Khan, ICC chief prosecutor said.

Karim further added, "literally standing on their heads, trampling on their dignity, stamping on their rights, he cannot plead ignorance. The smell was awful, the proximity could not have been closer. This is the type of criminality that gave rise to the charges before your honours."

The ICC, based in The Hague, is deciding whether 14 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity against Said, including torture and outrages of personal dignity, should move ahead to trial.

Prosecutors alleged that Said, 51, oversaw a "catalogue of misery" and personally mistreated opponents accused of supporting former leader Francois Bozize, whom the Seleka had driven out of power.

Prisoners were kept with just a bucket for a toilet, tied in stress positions, handcuffed together for weeks, subjected to fake drownings, and had their heads covered with pepper-filled hoods, the court heard.

Central African authorities handed Said over to the ICC in January over his alleged role in the sectarian violence that embroiled the country eight years ago.

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