Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona, a former militia commander in the Central African Republic (CAR), who was arrested in France last December, has been transferred to The Hague where he is scheduled to appear before a judge on January 25th.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor says 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.
He was arrested in France on December 12, 2018, and was transferred to the ICC detention center on January 24th, according to a statement from the court.
Ngaïssona, 51, will make his initial appearance before a pre-trial chamber of the ICC tomorrow at 2:30p.m. CET. He will be expected to confirm his identity and to state the language in which he is able to follow the proceedings. The judge will inform him of the charges against him and the rights that he has under the court’s rules. Finally, a date will be set for a hearing to confirm or to decline to confirm the charges against him.
In the November 11, 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.
The prosecution alleges that 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.
Ngaïssona is 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. Two months ago, 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.
Among other crimes, Ngaïssona stands accused of murder, torture and cruel treatment, mutilation, attacking buildings dedicated to religion, and actively using child soldiers in hostilities.