CAR: Hidden skeletons in Bozize's house
10 April 2013, 09:47
Bangui - Looters after gold or jewels in the abandoned home
of deposed Central African Republic president Francois Bozize came instead
across a gruesome discovery - two human skeletons hidden beneath the garage
At the house in Sassara, on the outskirts of the capital
Bangui, Colonel Ali Garba - one of the Seleka rebels whose coalition toppled
Bozize from power last month - gives a tour.
"The Monday [after the assault] I returned to pick up
two vehicles... The house had been looted," he says.
"The people were probably hoping to find diamonds or
gold stashed away. They lifted up two tiles in the garage and discovered the
He indicates the spot where the bodies were found, at the
back of the garage, stowed in two-metre deep recesses underneath square tiles.
All that now remains in the space is a scrap of coloured fabric.
"I saw them. They were bones with no flesh. The people
had been dead for a while, at least several months, maybe more," he says.
According to Garba, the house had already been pillaged by
the time the rebels took Bangui in a swift assault on March 24.
As he scoured the completely ransacked house, Garba says he
also found the dead body of a presidential guard, apparently killed during
clashes between Bozize's supporters and rebels.
"The Red Cross collected the body of the guard and the
skeletons," Garba says, a claim backed up by near neighbours.
The Red Cross could not however be contacted to find out
where the skeletons were taken.
A government source who did not want to give his name said
authorities regretted their removal and were keen to find and identify the
Who the two dead were and how they met their fate at the
property - one of several owned by Bozize - remains a mystery.
Some wonder if they were opponents to Bozize's regime,
killed and hidden under the floor in the hope they would never been unearthed.
"Perhaps it was a ritual," suggests one of the
Ritual killings are a known phenomenon in Central Africa,
designed to empower or bring good fortune to whoever orders the murder. Bones
belonging to those killed are sometimes also trafficked for use in witchcraft.
It was Monique Bozize, wife of the ex-president, who
supposedly lived in the house.
Now it lies unoccupied and almost completely bare, all the
furniture having been snatched, save one fitness machine. Even the toilets have
been pulled out.
Covering the floor are discarded documents, rubbish and
photos, some of which feature Francois Bozize, others depicting traditional
ceremonies or boxing tournaments.
At the back of the house, an electric generator has been
smashed into pieces, while more papers litter the garden.
Bozize is there outside - or rather an effigy of him, with
his face painted onto a "body" made up of his real clothes.
One rebel pulls on his tie as if to strangle the former
leader, who ruled Central African Republic for a decade but who fled to
Cameroon as the rebels advanced and is now expected to seek asylum in Benin.