According to a verdict handed to AFP on Friday by the Ministry of Justice, former Central African president François Bozizé, now the exiled leader of the major rebel coalition, was sentenced on Thursday to life imprisonment with hard labor in Bangui, notably for “conspiracy” and “rebellion.”
Mr. Bozizé, who seized power in a coup in 2003 before being deposed by rebels ten years later, was sentenced in absentia alongside two of his sons and 20 other co-accused, including important rebel leaders.
According to the sentence read by Joachim Pessire, First President of the Bangui Court of Appeal, which handles criminal matters in the first instance, they were all guilty of “undermining the internal security of the State” and “murder.”
Mr. Bozizé, 76, a Chadian refugee until March 2023, when he went into exile in Guinea-Bissau, is the coordinator of the group of Patriots for Change (CPC), the primary Central African rebel group created in December 2020 and fighting guerrilla warfare in the country’s north.
Ali Darassa, the fugitive military head of the CPC’s major component, the Unité pour la Paix en Centrafrique (UPC), is among those convicted.
Since 2013, when a coalition of armed groups dominated by Muslims, the Séléka, overthrew Mr. Bozizé, who then organized and armed so-called anti-balaka militias, mostly Christian and animist, in an attempt to reclaim power, civil war has been tearing apart the Central African Republic, one of the world’s poorest countries. The conflict, which was particularly lethal in its early years, has been much reduced in severity since 2018.