Bemba at the heart of the Central African case

22 May 2006 by Emmanuel Chicon et Benjamin Bibas

On April 11, 2006, the Court of Cassation in Central African Republic (CAR) acknowledged that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has jurisdiction to try the primary perpetrators of the violent acts that accompanied General François Bozizé's first putsch attempt in October 2002. Bozizé finally took power during a successful coup d'état in March 2003 and was later elected president in spring 2005.

In its decision, the Court of Cassation ruled that the national court system in Central African Republic lacked jurisdiction to try the five people that the current government accuses of being the main perpetrators of the numerous cases of murder, rape, destruction and looting that occurred during the failed putsch in October 2002. The five suspected perpetrators are: former president Ange-Félix Patassé, currently in exile in Togo; the current vice president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Jean-Pierre Bemba, who as head of the Liberation of Congo Movement (MLC) militia allegedly helped Patassé quash the October 2002 rebellion in exchange for money; Chadian-Central African militia leader Martin Koumtamadji, a.k.a. Abdoulaye Miskine, head of the Presidential Security Union (USP) and also a Patassé supporter in 2002; Patassé's former driver Victor Ndoubabé, who most likely died during the March 2003 coup; and former French police officer Paul Barril, who lead Patassé's close protection guard in 2002.

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