CAR govt to 'fully cooperate' with ICC probe

Last week, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda launched a preliminary examination into "heinous crimes" allegedly perpetrated recently in the Central African Republic.

CAR govt to 'fully cooperate' with ICC probe

World Bulletin / News Desk

The government of the Central African Republic (CAR) will cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC)'s examination into crimes committed in the landlocked African country.

"The president has been clear on this matter. She informed the minister of justice to help prosecutors if they approached her," newly-appointed government spokesperson Clement Guiyama Massogo told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview.

Last week, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda launched a preliminary examination into "heinous crimes" allegedly perpetrated recently in CAR.

"The allegations include hundreds of killings, acts of rape and sexual slavery, destruction of property, pillaging, torture, forced displacement and recruitment and the use of children in hostilities," she said.

"In many incidents, victims appear to have been deliberately targeted on religious grounds," Bensouda added.

ICC prosecutors will collect and analyze evidence before determining whether or not there is "a reasonable basis" for an investigation.

"Our government welcomes the ICC's planned investigations and we shall fully cooperate in assisting them," Massogo said.

"Whoever committed war crimes and violated the rights of Central African Citizens should be brought to book," he asserted.

The mineral-rich, Central African country descended into anarchy in March 2013 when Seleka rebels – said to be mostly Muslim – ousted Francois Bozize, a Christian, who had come to power in a 2003 coup. Michel Djotodia, a Muslim, was then installed as interim president.

Seleka rebels then reportedly began attacking Christian homes, looting property and carrying out summary executions, leading to the emergence of the Christian militia group known as the anti-balaka.

In the months that followed, the country was plagued by tit-for-tat sectarian violence between the anti-balaka and seleka fighters.

Reconciliation

The government spokesman underlined the need for national dialogue involving all stakeholders.

"If those who committed crimes are prosecuted, citizens can then reconcile and forgive each other," Massogo said.

On Wednesday, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres condemned the sectarian bloodletting in CAR.

"Indescrimate killings and massacres must be stopped," he told reporters at Bangui airport.

Muslims have been targeted with increasing frequency since January, when Catherine Samba-Panza, a Christian who had been serving as mayor of Bangui, was elected president.

Machete-wielding Christian militiamen now roam the Bangui suburbs, often erecting illegal checkpoints in order to identify and lynch Muslims. Recently, a number of Muslims have been lynched in broad daylight and their bodies set on fire.

Christians, who constitute the majority of CAR's population, accuse Muslims of supporting former seleka rebels.

Last Mod: 13 Şubat 2014, 15:42
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