Alleged CAR rebel leader to face war crimes trial

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An alleged leader of a rebel group in the Central African Republic will go on trial to face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the International Criminal Court (ICC) said on Thursday.

The Hague-based court, which has been considering a slew of accusations against alleged Seleka leader Mahamat Said Abdel Kani, 51, said in a statement it "partially confirms the charges and commits the suspect to trial".

One of the poorest countries in the world, the CAR spiralled into conflict in 2013 when president Francois Bozize was ousted by a rebel coalition called the Seleka, drawn largely from the Muslim minority.

The coup triggered a sectarian bloodbath between the Seleka and "anti-Balaka" forces, who were mainly Christian or animist.

The ICC said the court retained charges against Said that were committed in the capital Bangui between April and August 2013 against detained people suspected to be Bozize supporters.

The crimes included torture, imprisonment and cruel treatment.

"The Chamber found that there is sufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds to believe that Mr Said was a senior member of the Seleka coalition and is criminally responsible" for those acts, the statement said.

The court rejected accusations against him from a different location in Bangui between September and November 2013.

The CAR authorities handed Said to the ICC in January in response to an international arrest warrant.

Two former anti-Balaka leaders, Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona and Alfred Yekatom, are on trial at the ICC.