France will hand over an alleged African militia leader, Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona, to the ICC, where he faces war crimes charges. Ngaissona is a member of Africa's top footballing body, the CAF.
A French court ruled on Monday that Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona will be transferred from a jail near Paris to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where he is to face war crimes charges related to his alleged activities as a senior leader of the anti-Balaka militia in Central African Republic (CAR).
Ngaissona, a former government minister, was elected in February to the executive committee of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) even though Human Rights Watch had named him as an anti-Balaka leader in a 2016 report. The Christian militias carried out systematic attacks on Muslims living in CAR from 2013-2014 amid the deadly ethnic and religious conflict that has raged in the country since mainly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted President Francois Bozize in 2013.
Ngaissona is also president of the Central African Football Federation.
The ICC said Ngaissona, who was arrested on December 12 in France, was suspected of a range of war crimes and crimes against humanity. They include murder, torture and the recruitment of child soldiers.
ICC prosecutors had "found reasonable grounds to believe Mr. Ngaissona is liable for having committed jointly with others ... the above-mentioned crimes," the court said.
His arrest triggered a decision by two groups within the anti-Balaka movement to pull out of a government disarmament program that had been due to start by the end of the year. The groups said that Ngaissona's detention undermined the ongoing peace process instigated by the African Union and indicated an unfair disregard for crimes committed by the Seleka.
Ngaissona was arrested shortly after another person suspected of war crimes in CAR, Alfred Yekatom, was handed over to the ICC. Yekatom, nicknamed "Rambo," whose transfer took place on November 17, faces charges of deporting and torturing Muslims.
tj/kms (AFP, SID)