Stephanie has been in court at the International Criminal Court to follow the confirmation of charges hearing for two alleged militia leaders from the Central African Republic in the so-called CAR II case. Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona and Alfred Yekatom face charges related to attacks by the anti-balaka militias which fought the predominantly Muslim Seleka groups in 2013 and 2014. Thanks to an a very thorough Reuters editor we learned that anti-balaka means something like anti-machete and anti-AK47 and the name is meant as a sort of talisman to protect against weapons. If you’re wondering, Seleka means Union or Alliance in the local Sango language.
The case was also followed by journalists from the CAR and human rights organisations flown in by the ICC itself and other organisations like Journalists for Justice at the court and viewings were organised in the country itself.
But there were a lot of complaints that the Document Containing the Charges (DCC), a kind of proto-indictment, was only released to the public on the eve of the hearing leaving journalists and other interested parties with not enough time to properly prepare. A lot in the document has also been redacted not only for the public but lawyers for Ngaissona and Yekatom said they are also left in the dark, making it hard to mount an effective defence.
In an unexpected twist judges suddenly announced the hearings would be postponed for two weeks, mostly to give the prosecution and the defence time to file written replies to the issues raised in the first four days of hearings.