France on Wednesday arrested a former Central African Republic militia leader and key figure in the country’s football hierarchy on war crimes charges, the International Criminal Court said.
Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona, a former minister and leader of armed groups in the conflict-hit country, “has been arrested by the authorities of the French Republic”, the Hague-based court said.
Ngaissona was controversially elected to the executive board of the Confederation of African Football’s general assembly in February. His spokesman said he was also Central African Republic’s football chief.
The ICC issued a warrant for Ngaissona for coordinating so-called anti-Balaka militias which emerged after civil war broke out in 2013 with the aim of defending Christian communities from mostly Muslim rebels.
The warrant issued in December is for “alleged criminal responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the western part of the Central African Republic”, the court said.
The arrest comes just weeks after another suspected Central African militia leader — Alfred Yekatom, known as Rambo — was arrested and deported to The Hague.