Inaugural War Crimes Trial in Central African Republic Postponed

After years of waiting, the inaugural trial of the Special Criminal Court has been boycotted by the lawyers defending the accused militia members.

The Central African Republic had to postpone a long-awaited war crimes tribunal on Tuesday after defense attorneys failed to show up in an apparent boycott of the trial.

The Special Criminal Court, a hybrid body of local and foreign magistrates set up in 2015 with UN backing, is tasked with trying individuals suspected of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity since 2003, when the country entered a period of turmoil that still persists to this day.

It has been struggling for years to get going in the face of logistical hurdles, lack of money and hostility.

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Presiding Judge Aime-Pascal Delimo announced that proceedings would instead begin on April 25.

The three men set to stand trial are alleged members of the powerful 3R militia, accused of killing 46 villagers in a massacre in northwest Central African Republic in 2019.

Euphrasie Nanette Yanduka, who heads a victims’ association, said, “Unfortunately, the lawyers for the butchers did not come, We are leaving on the opening day today with tears in our eyes.”

Hostilities in CAR’s civil war began to ease in 2018. As recently as early 2021, however, two-thirds of the country lay in the hands of armed groups spawned in the conflict.

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Observers say attacks against civilians are routine and carried out with impunity.

More than 1 million people have been displaced by the conflict.

President Faustin Archange Touadera has been accused by France and its allies of turning to Moscow and the Russian private security company Wagner to shore up his position in exchange for a share of the CAR’s vast mineral wealth.

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