On 23 January 2023, Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided to postpone the commencement of the confirmation hearing in the case The Prosecutor v. Maxime Jeoffroy Eli Mokom Gawaka to a new date, which will be announced in due course. The hearing had been initially scheduled to open on 31 January 2023. The hearing was postponed following the delays resulting from the litigation relating to the appointment of Mr Mokom’s Counsel.
The purpose of the confirmation of charges hearing is to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds to believe that the person committed each of the crimes charged. If the charges are confirmed, the case will be transferred to a Trial Chamber, which will conduct the subsequent phase of the proceedings: the trial.
Mr Mokom is suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Central African Republic (CAR) between at least 5 December 2013 and at least December 2014. Pre-Trial Chamber II is composed of Judge Rosario Salvatore Aitala (Presiding judge), Judge Antoine Kesia-Mbe Mindua and Judge Tomoko Akane.
Background : On 14 March 2022, Mr Mokom was surrendered to the Court by the authorities of the Republic of Chad on account of an ICC warrant of arrest issued under seal on 10 December 2018. When issuing the warrant of arrest, Pre-Trial Chamber II found that there were reasonable grounds to believe that an armed conflict not of an international character was ongoing on the territory of the CAR from at least September 2013 until at least December 2014 between the Seleka – a coalition of armed groups predominantly composed of Muslims opposed to former president François Bozizé – and the Anti-Balaka – a movement opposed to the Seleka and supportive of former president Bozizé. Moreover, the Chamber found reasonable grounds to believe that, from at least September 2013 until at least December 2014, an attack was conducted by the Anti-Balaka against the Muslim civilian population and those perceived as collectively responsible for, complicit with or supportive of the Seleka, pursuant to or in furtherance of an organisational policy to target primarily the Muslim population in Bangui and other prefectures.
The Chamber found reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Mokom, a national of the Central African Republic, born on 30 December 1978 in Bangui, was a National Coordinator of Operations of the Anti-Balaka and, in this capacity, he is suspected of being responsible for the following crimes:
crimes against humanity consisting in (attempted) murder, extermination, deportation or forcible transfer of population, imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty, torture, persecution, enforced disappearance and other inhumane acts; and
war crimes consisting in (attempted) murder, torture, cruel treatment, mutilation, intentionally directing an attack against the civilian population, intentionally directing an attack against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in a humanitarian assistance, intentionally directing an attack against buildings dedicated to religion, pillaging, enlistment of children under the age of 15 years and their use to participate actively in hostilities, displacement of the civilian population and destroying or seizing the property of an adversary.
The alleged crimes were committed in various locations in the CAR, including Bangui, Bossangoa, the Lobaye Prefecture, Yaloké, Gaga, Bossemptélé, Boda, Carnot and Berberati, between at least 5 December 2013 and at least December 2014. Mr Mokom is suspected of having committed these crimes jointly with others and/or through others in furtherance of a policy to target the Muslim population and others perceived to support the Seleka or to be “foreigners” in Bangui and in western CAR; or aided, abetted or otherwise assisted in the commission or attempted commission of these crimes.