Central African Republic’s Special Criminal Court, set up to probe war crimes and crimes against humanity committed since 2003, opens its first trial Tuesday, seven years after it was created.
According to RFI, The court was created in 2015 with the backing of the United Nations and is made up of national and international judges and prosecutors from France, Togo and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
On Tuesday it will hear its first trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in May 2019.
Defendants Ousman Yaouba, Tahir Mahamat and Issa Sallet Adoum, known as Bozize, are members of 3R – one of the most powerful armed groups that have terrorised the population for years.
They are accused of massacring 46 civilians in villages in the north-west of the country.
It was learnt that Six women were raped during the attacks.
While the court has been praised by some as a model of justice which could be exported to other countries facing civil war, it has been criticised for the delay in opening its first trial.
Others doubt its effectiveness.
The trial comes exactly five months after officers from the SCC arrested former rebel chief Hassan Bouba at his ministry in Bangui.
US-based non-profit, the sentry, said Bouba was directly responsible for an attack on a camp for displaced people in November 2018 that left at least 112 villagers dead.
Days later, he was freed by gendarmes before returning to his ministry close to the court – and was decorated with 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.