A witness today said the commander of a military unit that reported to former Central African Republic (CAR) president Ange-Félix Patassé killed “many” people at a cattle market in the country’s capital Bangui.
The witness, who was testifying for the third day, said Colonel Abdoulaye Miskine led the attack on the cattle market in which several “Muslims” were killed. The witness said among those killed was her husband.
Testifying with face and image distortion, as well as the code-name ‘Witness 79,’ she recalled how an area resident informed her of the attack on the market located at an area known as PK 13. The person reportedly told her,“You Muslims are here but Miskine and the Banyamulenge have killed many Muslims and he promised to come back later and kill more Muslims in PK 12 [suburb].”
Banyamulenge is a term Central African people used to refer to Mr. Bemba’s soldiers, who were in Bangui to help Mr. Patassé fight off an armed rebellion during 2002 and 2003.
Defense attorney Aime Kilolo-Musamba asked ‘Witness 79’ who commanded the attack on the cattle market.
“I could not tell you who was in command and who were the assistants. I just know that it was Miskine and the Banyamulenge,” she replied.
Asked why she referred to the men who were with Miskine at PK 13 as Banyamulenge, the witness responded, “Miskine had come with them…and it was with them that he committed these abuses.”
Mr. Bemba’s lawyers have previously stated that there were numerous militias in Bangui at the time the MLC were there and that any of these fighting groups could have committed the systematic plunders, rapes, and murders that the former Congolese vice president is on trial for at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The defense has repeatedly asked witnesses about the massacre at the cattle market, which it claims the MLC never took part in.
Mr. Miskine, also known as Martin Koumtamadji, is allegedly a Chadian national who Mr. Patassé had entrusted with the command of a special unit outside the army that fought coup attempts by sacked army chief François Bozizé. Last November, the first prosecution witness stated that when Mr. Bozize’s rebels attacked Bangui, Mr. Miskine carried out a punitive raid on the cattle market. The raid took place on October 30 and 31, 2002.
Yesterday, ‘Witness 79’ recounted how she and her 11 year old daughter were raped by soldiers belonging to the MLC, two days after the murder of her husband.
The trial continues tomorrow.