France arrests Central Africa Republic war crimes suspect

12 December 2018 - 17:15 By Toby Sterling and Stephanie van der Berg
Central African Republic's football federation chief Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona attends the 40th CAF ordinary general assembly in the Moroccan city of Casablanca on February 2 2018. Ngaissona was arrested on December 12 2018 for war crimes and will face extradition to The Hague.
Central African Republic's football federation chief Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona attends the 40th CAF ordinary general assembly in the Moroccan city of Casablanca on February 2 2018. Ngaissona was arrested on December 12 2018 for war crimes and will face extradition to The Hague.
Image: FADEL SENNA / AFP

French authorities have arrested a man suspected of committing war crimes in the Central African Republic and he will face extradition to The Hague, the International Criminal Court (ICC) said on Tuesday.

Prosecutors say Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona was the "senior leader" of the Anti-Balaka militia that carried out systematic attacks on the country's Muslim population in 2013-2014.

Ngaissona, who denies wrongdoing, was elected in February to the executive committee of the Confederation of African Football despite objections from groups including Human Rights Watch. It named had him as a leader of the Anti-Balaka in a report in 2016.

The ICC said Ngaissona was suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity including murder, extermination, deportation, persecution, torture, attacking civilians, and recruiting child soldiers.

A chamber at the court "found reasonable grounds to believe Mr Ngaissona is liable for having committed jointly with others ... the above-mentioned crimes."

Ethnic and religious conflict has raged for years in Central African Republic. Christian Anti-Balaka militias have been fighting mainly Muslim Seleka rebels after the rebels ousted President Francois Bozize in 2013. Thousands have died in the violence.

A court spokesperson confirmed French authorities had carried out the arrest after the warrant was issued on December 7. The ICC had formally requested Ngaissona's transfer. 

- Reuters


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