France hands Central African war crimes suspect to ICC

by Reuters
Wednesday, 23 January 2019 13:20 GMT

A member of the of the Anti-Balaka armed militia displays his weapon in the town of of Bocaranga, Central African Republic, April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

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Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona is said to have been a "senior leader" of the anti-balaka militia which carried out systematic attacks on CAR's Muslim population

THE HAGUE, Jan 23 (Reuters) - A Central Africa Republic soccer executive and alleged militia leader was transferred by France to the International Criminal Court on Wednesday, the court said in a statement.

Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona was held on an ICC arrest warrant on Dec. 12 and a French court authorised his hand over to the ICC late last month.

ICC prosecutors accuse Ngaissona of war crimes and crimes against humanity including murder, extermination, deportation, persecution, torture, attacking civilians, and recruiting child soldiers.

He has been described by prosecutors as the "senior leader" of the mostly Christian anti-balaka militia that carried out systematic attacks on the Muslim population in 2013-2014.

Ngaissona, who was elected as a top executive of Africa's football governing body CAF, has denied the charges.

The Central African Republic has been mired by inter-communal violence since a coalition of mostly northern rebels known as Seleka seized power in March 2013. Their brutal rule gave rise to the anti-balaka militia.

The ICC has said it is investigating crimes committed by all parties in the conflict.

In November, Alfred Yekatom, another leader of the anti-balaka militia and a sitting member of the country's parliament, was handed over to the ICC. (Reporting by Anthony Deutsch, Editing by William Maclean)

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