CAR sentences exiled former leader Bozize to life imprisonment

Former Central African Republic president François Bozizé, who has been in exile and became a rebel leader, has been sentenced to life imprisonment with forced labor for charges of conspiracy and rebellion, according to authorities.

Aged 76, Bozizé, who resided in exile in Chad until March before relocating to Guinea-Bissau, leads an alliance of rebel factions known as the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), which was established in December 2020.

The former president, who assumed power in the Central African Republic in 2003 but was overthrown a decade later, received his sentencing on Thursday, as conveyed in a judgment provided to media by the justice ministry.

Two of Bozizé’s sons, along with 20 other co-defendants, including rebel leaders, were likewise sentenced to life imprisonment with forced labor in absentia.

They were also found guilty of endangering the state’s internal security and committing “murders,” as outlined in the verdict issued by an appeals court in the capital city of Bangui.

The verdict did not provide specific information regarding the timeframe in question or the nature of the crimes involved.

Civil conflict has ravaged the Central African Republic, which is one of the world’s most impoverished nations, since 2013 when predominantly Muslim armed groups ousted Bozizé from power.

Bozizé established armed militias called the anti-Balakas, primarily composed of Christians, in an effort to regain control of the country.

While the intensity of the conflict diminished from 2018 onwards, the nation continues to experience sporadic episodes of violence and remains mired in extreme poverty.

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