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Central African Republic Citizens Express Worries Over Release Of Detained Rebels Without Trial

The detained rebels are allegedly being favoured due to the influence of former transitional head of state Michel Djotodia.

People in the Central African Republic have been expressing concern over the continued release without trial of notorious leaders of armed groups arrested in various parts of the country and incarcerated in the national capital, Bangui.

Most of those arrested and subsequently released without trial are members of the former Seleka rebellion led by the former transitional head of state Michel Djotodia.

The former head of state and one of his close confidants, Abdoulaye Hissen are accused of being behind the release of individuals accused of carrying out extra-judicial killings in various parts of the country.

The two individuals who are now allies of President Faustin Archange Touadera’s government are accused of interfering in judicial proceedings, and this, with the complicity of the head of state.

Recent cases of their interference in the judicial process involve the spokesperson of the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC), Moussa Bobiri and two officials of the Front Populaire pour la Renaissance de Centrafrique (FPRC) Aladji Daoud and Hassan as well as other rebels who were arrested in the Bria locality by Russian mercenaries and transferred to Bangui the capital. 

They all have been released, and it was not clear how they were able to secure their freedom.

“Shortly after they arrived in Bangui and were detained in the Ngaragba prison, they were released. And this has been causing a lot of disquiet within the populations,” a civil society activist who opted for anonymity for fear of reprisals told HumAngle in Bangui on Tuesday.

In Bria, the populations have been denouncing what they perceived as double standards within the judicial system.

According to them, individuals such as Aladji Daoud who claims to be a businessman but who in actual fact is a war criminal should not be allowed back into society.

“During his investiture on March 30, 2021, the head of state declared that his second term would be couched on ending impunity,” an opposition activist who gave his name as Gregoire Nderaba said.

“He said no victim would be left aside but look at how those who hurt the victims are allowed to go unpunished. Is that justice?”

However, some of those who were arrested and taken to Bangui but later released say impunity played no part in their release. They hold that they paid heavily before they were released.

“We were arrested because of our money. Once we were transferred to Bangui, the first thing they asked from us was money. The judges and even the security forces asked us to give them huge sums of money and they would do everything to ensure that we were released. And that is exactly what we did,” one of the released persons who refused to disclose his name told a group of curious onlookers in Bria.

Sources in the Ministry of Justice however have a different explanation concerning the release of some of the arrested rebels and the involvement of Michel Djotodia and Abdoulaye Hissen in their liberation.

“When rebels are arrested and transferred to Bangui, we invite Abdoulaye Hissen to come and verify whether the arrested persons were among the rebels who are against the government. If he says they are not against the government, we release them without trial,” a senior official in the Ministry of Justice revealed.

Other quarters accuse the former transitional head of state, Michel Djotodia of always intervening to get arrested rebels released.

“If these criminals are released from Ngaragba prison, it is because of Michel Djotodia. He is the one who intervenes and gets his former Seleka rebels who continue to harass the people, released,” another political activist said.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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