The Special Criminal Court of the Central African Republic will today (Tuesday) hear its first trial on War Crimes seven years after it was established.
The hybrid court, which is made up of foreign and Central African judges and prosecutors, was established to look into war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the previous two decades.
Some have praised the Bangui court as an example of justice in a country ravaged by decades of civil violence. Others have cast doubt on its effectiveness.
The defendants in the trial on Tuesday include members of 3R, one of the country’s most formidable armed groups.
They are suspected of killing dozens of people in the country’s northwestern region.
Piotr Hofmanski, the President of the International Criminal Court, has tweeted his support for the Special Criminal Court.
The trial begins exactly five months after former rebel head Hassan Bouba was detained at his ministry in Bangui by SCC officials.
According to The Sentry, a US-based non-profit, Bouba was personally responsible for an attack on a displaced people’s camp in November 2018 that killed at least 112 civilians.
He was rescued by gendarmes a few days later before returning to his ministry near the court, where he was awarded the National Order of Merit.
“The SCC is facing obstacles put in place by the authorities, perfectly illustrated by the Hassan Bouba affair,” said Nicolas Tiangaye, a lawyer and spokesman for the opposition Coalition of 2020, which gathers most of the unarmed opposition parties.
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