Another militia commander in the Central African Republic (CAR) has been arrested following an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC), whose pre-trial judges say there is evidence that he led forces that brutalized Muslim civilians.
Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona was arrested in France on December 12, 2018, and is expected to be handed over to the court once national proceedings on his transfer are completed.
According to a statement from the ICC, Ngaïssona was the most senior leader and the “National General Coordinator” of the Anti-Balaka militia, which allegedly brutalized Muslim civilians suspected of supporting a rival militia known as the Seleka.
In issuing the December 7, 2018 arrest warrant, judges found reasonable grounds to believe that Ngaïssona is liable for having committed jointly with others or through others or having aided, abetted, or assisted in the commission of numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity. The crimes were allegedly committed between December 2013 and December 2014.
Ngaïssona becomes the second individual to be arrested over crimes committed in the CAR since 2012, which the prosecutor started investigating following a May 2014 referral from that country’s government. Last month, Alfred Yekatom, a former commander in the Anti-Balaka militia, was transferred to The Hague following his arrest from the Central African parliament, where he is a member.
According to the prosecution, fighters of the Anti-Balaka, a predominantly Christian militia, committed numerous crimes as they fought against the Seleka, a coalition of armed groups predominantly composed of Muslims. It says the attacks were carried out in furtherance of an organizational policy to target Muslims in retribution for crimes committed by the Seleka.
According to the warrant for Yekatom’s arrest, judges found reasonable grounds to believe that the Anti-Balaka conducted a widespread and systematic attack against the Muslim civilian population and anyone perceived to support the Seleka.
The crimes against humanity alleged against Ngaïssona are murder and attempted murder, extermination, deportation or forcible transfer of population, imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty, torture, persecution, enforced disappearance and other inhumane acts.
Alleged war crimes include murder and attempted murder, torture, cruel treatment, mutilation, intentionally directing an attack against the civilian population, and intentionally directing an attack against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in a humanitarian assistance.
Others allegations include intentionally directing an attack against buildings dedicated to religion, pillaging, enlistment of children under the age of 15 years and their use to participate actively in hostilities, displacement of the civilian population and destroying or seizing the property of an adversary.