France indicts Central Africa war crimes suspect

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 28, 2013 Seleka rebels of the "Red Squad" patrol on a pick up truck near the pillaged presidential palace of deposed president in Bangui. Ousted Central African Republic president Francois Bozize, who fled after rebels took the capital Bangui, has taken refuge in Cameroon. (Photo by Sia KAMBOU / AFP)

Eric Bagale was one of the ‘Liberators’, the name given to the guards of Bozize who brought him to power in 2003 by overthrowing president Ange-Felix Patasse.

France has arrested and indicted a former guard of deposed Central African Republic president Francois Bozize for “complicity in crimes against humanity”, anti-terrorist prosecutors said on Saturday.

Eric Danboy Bagale, 41, was arrested in eastern France on Tuesday and placed under judicial investigation in Paris late on Friday, prosecuting authority PNAT told AFP.

Bagale, who served in the presidential guard and then as head of the anti-Balaka militia, was also indicted for “acts of torture” and for “criminal association for the preparation of a war crime” for acts committed between 2007 and 2014, PNAT said in a statement.

Bagale was taken into custody in Besancon on Tuesday by the Central Office for the Fight against Crimes Against Humanity, Genocides and War Crimes (OCLCHGCG).

Bagale was one of the “Liberators”, the name given to the guards of Bozize who brought him to power in 2003 by overthrowing president Ange-Felix Patasse.

A member of the Gbaya ethnic group, like Bozize, Bagale then became a senior figure within the Christian anti-Balaka militia set up to fight the mainly Muslim rival armed group, the Seleka, that ousted Bozize from power in 2013.

The fighting between the two sides, and the numerous massacres perpetrated by them, plunged the CAR, one of the poorest countries in Africa, into the third civil war in its history.

According to the UN, which accused both sides of war crimes, between 3,000 and 6,000 people died, mostly civilians, between 2013 and 2015.

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