Alfred Yekatom, a former militia leader from the Central African Republic, has been transferred to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The man was locked up in the detention centre on Saturday evening, a spokesman confirmed.
It is the first time since the outbreak of the civil war five years ago in the Central African Republic that a rebel leader will have to answer. The 43-year-old Yekatom, also called “Rambo”, is accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Yekatom was arrested two weeks ago and transferred to The Hague on Saturday with a charter flight. He will be answered as soon as possible.
The UN accuses the rebel leader of numerous human rights violations. His militia would have killed and maimed civilians and recruited child soldiers. Yekatom led a fraction of the Christian, anti-Balaka militias fighting against the Islamic group Seleka.
The latter conquered a large part of the country in 2013 and overturned the Bozizé government. In the civil war that followed, 1.3 million people fled, about a quarter of the population of the Central African Republic. Half of the population depends on humanitarian aid. The UN have had a peace mission in the country for several years.
The Supreme Court Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, stresses that Yekatom – just like any other suspect before the ICC – is innocent until proven otherwise: “Today I want to pay tribute to the courage and determination of the witnesses in the Central African Republic, who continue to report to make their testimonies and encourage them to continue to do so. Without them, justice would not be possible.”