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France arrests a former minister from Central African Republic on war crimes charges

Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona was elected to the executive board of the Confederation of African Football in February 2018
Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona was elected to the executive board of the Confederation of African Football in February 2018 FADEL SENNA / AFP

France on Wednesday arrested Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona, a former minister of the Central African Republic, wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court. The ICC considers him to be the "most senior leader and the 'National General Coordinator' of the Anti-Balaka" militias.

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Anti-Balaka militias emerged after civil war broke out in 2013 with the declared aim of defending Christian communities from mostly Muslim rebels.

Before the violence erupted, Ngaissona briefly served as minister of sport under former president Francois Bozize, whose overthrow in 2013 by mainly Muslim Seleka rebels triggered the conflict.

The warrant issued in December is for "alleged criminal responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity which include murder, torture, mutilation, intentionally targeting and displacing civilians, pillaging and enlisting child soldiers.

The arrest comes just weeks after another suspected Central African militia leader Alfred Yekatom, known as Rambo -- was arrested and deported to The Hague.

In a statement, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Wednesday "welcomed" the arrest of Ngaissona.

"I am confident that pursuant to the domestic proceedings already underway in France, Mr Ngaïssona will be transferred to the ICC in due course to face justice," she said.

(with AFP)

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