Central African Republic: Alleged militia leaders face trial

International Criminal Court judges have ordered two alleged leaders of a predominantly Christian militia involved in a bitter conflict with Muslim forces in the Central African Republic to stand trial on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity

The International Criminal Court announced Wednesday that two alleged leaders of a predominantly Christian militia involved in a bitter conflict with Muslim forces in the Central African Republic must stand trial on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona and Alfred Yekatom are suspected of involvement in crimes including murder, rape, persecution, torture and deliberately attacking civilians.

Both men are accused of involvement in the crimes in their roles as senior leaders in the anti-Balaka militia. They have not entered pleas.

Judges who studied prosecution evidence to assess if it is strong enough to merit sending the men for trial rejected some charges sought by prosecutors for lack of evidence.

Ngaissona was chief of the Central African Republic's soccer federation when he was arrested last year in Paris on an ICC warrant. Both suspects are in custody at the court's detention center.

No trial date was immediately set. Defense lawyers for both men can seek authorization from the court to appeal the decision sending them for trial.

The government of the Central African Republic asked the ICC in 2014 to investigate crimes allegedly committed by both the Seleka and the anti-Balaka. So far, no Seleka fighters have been publicly targeted by the court's chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda.