The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said on Wednesday: “My office has gathered and scrupulously analysed relevant information from multiple reliable sources.”
The move comes after a preliminary ICC investigation earlier this year into the violence that has plagued the country for more than 18 months established that there were grounds to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity.
“Based on this independent and comprehensive analysis, I have concluded that an investigation is warranted,” Bensouda said in a statement.
The country plunged into conflict after a coup in March 2013 by a mainly Muslim rebel alliance, the Seleka, which overthrew president Francois Bozize and made their own man, Michel Djotodia, head of state.
Influential foreign leaders in January forced Djotodia to step down after he proved incapable of preventing widespread atrocities by rogue Seleka fighters. Communities from Central Africa’s mainly Christian majority responded by setting up vigilante forces known as “anti-balaka” (anti-machete) to seek vengeance, mostly targeting Muslim civilians whom they accused of backing Seleka.
Bensouda said there was “a reasonable basis to believe that both the Seleka and the anti-balaka groups have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes.” The charges include murder, rape, forced displacement, persecution and using child soldiers, she said. – Sapa