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Fugitive From International Criminal Court Arrested in Central African Republic, Headed to The Hague

ICC-Indicted Mahamat Saïd Abdelkani Arrested, Transferred to The Hague to Face War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity Charges
January 25, 2020 (Washington, DC) – Mahamat Saïd Abdelkani has been surrendered to the International Criminal Court (ICC) by the authorities of the Central African Republic (CAR) on account of an ICC warrant of arrest for his involvement in torture, enforced disappearance, and other inhuman acts between March 2013 and January 2014.

Nathalia Dukhan, Senior Investigator at The Sentry, said: “Even though any effort to end the vicious cycle of impunity in CAR should be applauded, the recent arrest of Mahamat Saïd also reveals the limits of the international judicial system. In targeting the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in 2013, the ICC chose to ignore the financial motives that fuel the system of mass violence and chaos in CAR. Saïd can also be considered as a close collaborator of Nourredine Adam, who has escaped justice and is currently leading a coup attempt against the central power in Bangui with the support of regional heads of states. These gaps, worsened by the Khartoum agreement signed between the CAR government and 14 armed groups in 2019 that attributed a de facto amnesty to warlords, leave victims of war without justice and war criminals without accountability.”

John Prendergast, Founding Director of The Sentry, said: “Mahamat Saïd Abdelkani, a Séléka commander with a long history of violence and mass atrocities committed against civilians in the Central African Republic, is a classic case of the financial motives that underly some of the world’s most heinous crimes. Greed continues to fuel war, regional insecurity, and deep human suffering as the Central African Republic is looted of its natural resources by an array of predators and profiteers both foreign and domestic.”

Investigations by The Sentry have revealed the following:

  • Saïd, a self-proclaimed Séléka general, is a close associate of Nourredine Adam, a UN-sanctioned individual and a key leader of the ex-Séléka coalition. As part of Nourredine Adam’s team, Saïd has largely contributed to creating a climate of fear and chaos particularly in 2013 when the Séléka was in power.
  • According to The Sentry’s investigations, Saïd is a diamond dealer who has played an instrumental role in the financing of the Popular Front for the Rebirth of Central African Republic (FPRC), an ex-Séléka armed faction led by Nourredine Adam since 2014, through the trafficking of CAR diamonds exported to Dubai and India.
  • To secure FPRC control over the mines around Bria and Nzacko in eastern CAR in collaboration with UN-sanctioned individual Abdoulaye Hissène, Saïd supported a series of attacks in the past years, according to The Sentry’s investigations. In 2015, Saïd also joined Hissène’s team which was responsible for committing mass atrocities in the capital Bangui, with the aim to prevent the holding of a referendum and elections.
  • More recently, sources interviewed by The Sentry confirm that Mahamat Saïd, acting for the FPRC, was the “brain” of recent attacks in Nzacko and Bakouma led by the armed group Coalition of the Patriots, intended to maintain a grip on the mines.

For more insight, read The Sentry’s reports State of Prey and Fear, Inc.

About The Sentry
The Sentry is an investigative and policy team that follows the dirty money connected to African war criminals and transnational war profiteers and seeks to shut those benefiting from violence out of the international financial system. By disrupting the cost-benefit calculations of those who hijack governments for self-enrichment, we seek to counter the main drivers of conflict and create new leverage for peace, human rights, and good governance. The Sentry is composed of financial investigators, international human rights lawyers, and regional experts, as well as former law enforcement agents, intelligence officers, policymakers, investigative journalists, and banking professionals. Co-founded by George Clooney and John Prendergast, The Sentry is a strategic partner of the Clooney Foundation for Justice.

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