FIFA bans African soccer official suspected of war crimes

The chief of Central African Republic's soccer federation Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona stands during his initial appearance before the judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. (Koen Van Well/Pool photo via AP)

ZURICH — FIFA has banned a leading African soccer official who faces trial for war crimes in The Hague.

Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona was banned for six years and eight months by FIFA ethics judges on Thursday, for charges including "discrimination and of failing to protect, respect or safeguard integrity and human dignity." He was fined 500,000 Swiss francs ($500,000).

Ngaissona was president of the Central African Republic soccer body for more than a decade since 2008. He was elected last year to the Confederation of African Football executive committee.

He is suspected of war crimes in 2013 and 2014 as leader of the Christian anti-Balaka militia which targeted Muslims.

In their written ruling, FIFA judges detailed suspected crimes in the CAR including summary executions, torture, sexual offences and destruction of mosques. Around 190,000 Muslim refugees fled to neighbouring Cameroon and Chad.

While he was allegedly committing war crimes, Ngaissona was a member of FIFA’s panel organizing the Club World Cup. FIFA appointed him in 2017 to its member associations committee.

Ngaissona was arrested last December in France and transferred to the Netherlands where the International Criminal Court is based.

A pre-trial hearing was held in September where Ngaissona faced 111 charges. Judges are still weighing a decision whether to send Ngaissona and another suspect to trial.

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