Trial Chamber V postponed the opening of the trial in the case The Prosecutor v. Alfred Yekatom and Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona at the International Criminal Court (ICC) to 16 February 2021.
The opening of the trial was initially scheduled for 9 February 2021 but the Chamber had to postpone due to unexpected Covid-19-related circumstances. The ICC will also explore the technical possibilities to conduct the hearings with remote participation.
Mr Yekatom and Mr Ngaïssona are accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the Central African Republic (CAR). The hearings will be held before Trial Chamber V, composed of Judge Bertram Schmitt (Presiding judge), Judge Péter Kovács, and Judge Chang-ho Chung.
During these hearings, the Prosecution, the Legal Representatives of the Victims and the Defence of Mr Ngaïssona will deliver their opening statements. The Chamber granted six hours to the Prosecution, three hours to the Legal Representatives of the Victims, to be divided between them, and three hours to the Ngaïssona Defence.
The Defence of Mr Yekatom will make its opening statements at the beginning of the presentation of its evidence. The trial is scheduled to resume on 15 March 2021, when the Prosecution will begin to present its evidence and call its witnesses before the judges.
The arrest warrant for Alfred Yekatom was issued on 11 November 2018 and unsealed on 17 November 2018. He was surrendered to the ICC on 17 November 2018 and his initial appearance took place on 23 November 2018. The arrest warrant for Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona was issued on 7 December 2018. He was arrested by the authorities of the French Republic on 12 December 2018 and transferred to the ICC detention centre on 23 January 2019, upon completion of necessary national proceedings. His initial appearance took place on 25 January 2019. On 20 February 2019, Pre-Trial Chamber II joined the Yekatom and Ngaïssona cases.
The confirmation of charges hearing was held on 19-25 September and 11 October 2019. On 11 December 2019, Pre-Trial Chamber II partially confirmed the charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity brought by the Prosecutor against Alfred Yekatom and Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona and committed them to trial. The public redacted version of the decision on the confirmation of charges was published on 20 December 2019.