CAR war crimes suspect arrested in France

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French authorities 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.

Prosecutors say Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona was “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 him leader of the Anti-Balaka in a 2016 report.

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 crimes.”

Ethnic and religious conflict 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 died in the violence.

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