Lawyer: Central African Republic Soccer Chief Is Innocent | World News

By MIKE CORDER, Related Press

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The previous head of Central African Republic’s soccer federation used the favored sport to foster peace and unity in his nation and performed no function in anti-Muslim atrocities, his lawyer advised judges on the Worldwide Felony Court docket on Thursday.

Protection lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops advised the three-judge panel in his opening assertion that Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona is a sufferer of a rush to justice by prosecutors.

Each Ngaïssona and his co-defendant Alfred Yekatom, a insurgent chief often called Rambo, pleaded not responsible on Tuesday to a number of expenses of battle crimes and crimes towards humanity as their trial opened on the world court docket.

Prosecutors accuse them of being senior leaders in a predominantly Christian militia often called the anti-Balaka that engaged in bitter preventing with the primarily Muslim Seleka insurgent group and its perceived supporters in 2013 and 2014. The violence left 1000’s lifeless and compelled a whole lot of 1000’s extra to flee.

However Knoops countered that Ngaïssona’s “endeavor in life was to deliver peace and unity in his nation, to reunite his folks.”

He known as Ngaïssona “an individual who was refusing to make use of violence, was refusing to make use of army means to realize this purpose. That is our protection case.”

Prosecutors say Ngaïssona is complicit in anti-Balaka crimes as a result of he helped to arm, set up and gave political assist to the group because it went on a bloody, vengeance-fueled rampage towards Muslim civilians after the Seleka had violently seized management of the nation in 2013 and ousted then-President Francois Bozize.

Yekatom’s protection legal professionals will make their opening assertion once they start presenting their proof. That is prone to be months away as prosecutors have mentioned they are going to name witnesses, together with victims, specialists and “insiders” to testify on the trial.

Each males face most sentences of life imprisonment if convicted.

Knoops insisted that Ngaïssona used his influential place on the head of the soccer federation for good.

“His weapon, if we will discuss weapons in a metaphorical sense, was making his expertise with sports activities — soccer — instrumental additionally for the unification of his folks from all ethnicities,” Knoops mentioned.

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