ICC Drops Charges, Releases Central Africa Militia Leader

Former Central African Republic militia leader Maxime Jeoffroy Eli Mokom Gawaka attends the International Criminal Court hearings to determine the exact charges it will bring against him, in The Hague, Netherlands, August 22, 2023. REUTERS - PIROSCHKA VAN DE WOUW

Mokom, the former national coordinator of anti-balaka militias, faced 20 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for alleged atrocities against Muslim civilians in the Central African Republic (CAR) during 2013 and 2014.

However, ICC prosecutor Karim Khan dropped all charges against him on Thursday, citing the lack of reasonable prospects for conviction due to changed circumstances regarding witness availability.

Mokom was released from custody on Tuesday, as confirmed by the ICC.

During an August hearing, Mokom denied involvement in attacks on Muslim civilians, claiming his dedication to the pursuit of peace. He stated that he was a refugee residing in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo for most of the period covered by the charges.

The CAR has experienced ongoing violence since a coalition of predominantly Muslim rebels, known as Seleka, seized power in 2013, leading to the formation of anti-balaka Christian militias in opposition.

Prosecutor Khan emphasized the possibility of requesting a new arrest warrant if further evidence emerged and expressed sympathy for the survivors and their families, acknowledging their disappointment.

A lawyer representing the victims described the decision as a “betrayal,” and victims in Bangui expressed their struggles to accept Mokom’s release, calling for justice and accountability.

Lawyers stated that victims would appeal the ICC’s decision in the coming days.

Mokom is likely to remain in the Netherlands, where the ICC is based, while awaiting another state to accept his custody.

In addition, a court in Bangui recently found him guilty of breaching state security and sentenced him to life with hard labor.

The ICC has been investigating violence in the CAR since May 2014, with two ongoing trials involving other anti-balaka and Seleka leaders.

Advert Display WhatsApp Follow Button

Your Page Title

The Black Examiner®.

We come to you.

Want to send us a story or have an opinion to share? Send an email to editorial@examiner.co.ug or Join Our WhatsApp CHANNEL