Chad surrenders Central African ex-militia head to ICC

Mokom, ex-leader of an Anti-balaka militia, is suspected of war crimes committed in 2013 and 2014.

Members of the of the Anti-Balaka armed militia pose as they display their weapons in the town of Bocaranga, Central African Republic
Members of the Anti-balaka armed militia pose as they display their weapons in the town of Bocaranga, Central African Republic, on April 28, 2017 [File: Baz Ratner/Reuters]

Chadian authorities have handed over a former Central African Republic militia leader accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity, to the International Criminal Court

On Monday, the Hague-based court said in a statement that Maxime Jeoffroy Eli Mokom Gawaka, who is suspected of crimes committed in 2013 and 2014 “in Bangui and other locations in the Central African Republic,” was now in its custody.

In 2013, the CAR spiralled into conflict when President Francois Bozize was overthrown by a rebel coalition called the Seleka, drawn largely from the Muslim minority.

The coup triggered a sectarian bloodbath between the Seleka and “Anti-balaka” forces, who were mainly Christian or animist.

Mokom was the leader of an “Anti-balaka” group.

In 2019, he became the country’s minister for disarmament and demobilisation.

The ICC said it has “found reasonable grounds” to suspect that Mokom, in his capacity as a “National Coordinator of Operations of the Anti-balaka”, was responsible for crimes against humanity, including murder, torture, persecution and “enforced disappearance”.

On the war crimes front, he is suspected of, among other things, “intentionally directing an attack against the civilian population” and an attack against humanitarian assistance personnel as well as enlisting fighters as young as 15.

“Mr Maxime Jeoffroy Eli Mokom Gawaka was surrendered to the International Criminal Court by the authorities of the Republic of Chad on account of an ICC warrant of arrest issued under seal on 10 December 2018,” the court said.

“The initial appearance of Mr Mokom … will take place in due course,” it said in its statement.

The ICC, which sits in The Hague, was created in 2002 to try individuals prosecuted for war crimes, crimes against humanity or acts of genocide.

Two former Anti-balaka leaders, Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona and Alfred Yekatom, are already on trial at the ICC. In September, an alleged Seleka leader will go on trial at the ICC to face similar charges.

Source: Reuters