France extradites African football chief to war crimes court

Wednesday January 23 2019

Patrice Edouard Ngaissona

Central African Republic's football federation chief Patrice Edouard Ngaissona attends the 40th Confederation of African Football (CAF) ordinary general assembly in Casablanca, Morocco in February 3, 2018. He was arrested in France on December 12 and transferred to the ICC in The Hague where he faces war crimes charges. PHOTO | AFP 

AFP
By AFP
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France on Wednesday transferred Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona, a member of Africa's top footballing body, to the International Criminal Court in The Hague where he faces war crimes charges, the ICC said.

Ngaissona, who sits on the board of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), is charged with coordinating so-called anti-Balaka militia which emerged after civil war broke out in the Central African Republic (CAR) in 2013.

The former CAR sports minister was arrested in France on December 12 on an ICC warrant.

The court said Ngaissona was extradited by France Wednesday "pursuant to an ICC arrest warrant for crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed in the Central African Republic."

"This transfer followed the completion of necessary national proceedings in France", it said.

ICC Registrar Peter Lewis, "thanked the authorities of the French Republic and of the host State, The Netherlands, for their cooperation in the arrest and transfer of Mr Ngaissona to the Court", the statement added.

A French court ruled on December 31 to extradite him.

Ngaissona, who is head of the Central African Republic's football association, was controversially elected to the executive board of the CAF general assembly in February.

The anti-Balaka militia he was allegedly involved with were set up to defend Christian communities from mostly Muslim rebels during the conflict in his country.

The militia are accused of a host of human rights abuses including mass killings and mutilations.

Ngaissona's arrest last year came just weeks after another suspected militia leader -- Alfred Yekatom, known as Rambo -- was detained in the Central African Republic and transferred to The Hague.

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