The Central African Republic has issued an international arrest warrant for former president Francois Bozize on charges of crimes against humanity, the public prosecutor has said.
“Since May 29, 2013, an international arrest warrant has been out against… Francois Bozize,” Alain Tolmo said on Friday, adding that some of the charges fell under the scope of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and included “crimes against humanity and incitement to genocide”.
Bozize – who fled the country after rebels seized power in a coup in March – also stands accused of 22 murders and 119 “summary executions”, the prosecutor said.
Bozize is also accused of a string of arrests, abductions and arbitrary detentions as well as the destruction of nearly 4,000 homes.
Tolmo, who described the crimes blamed on Bozize as “appallingly egregious”, said the warrant had been sent through Interpol but no notice against Bozize was visible on the international police organisation’s website.
The ICC for its part said it had not issued a warrant against Bozize.
“The ICC has not issued an arrest warrant and has not made any new demand regarding the situation in the Central African Republic.
The ICC however continues to monitor developments there,” spokesman Fadi el-Abdallah told the AFP news agency.
“The butcher of Paoua”
The country’s interim government announced earlier this month it was opening a probe into “grave human rights violations” by Bozize and his allies during his 10 years in power.
“Other international arrest warrants are being issued,” Tolmo said, without elaborating.
Justice Minister Arsene Sende had said earlier this month that the summary executions were believed to have been carried out by Bozize’s personal guard, led by Eugene Ngaikosset, a captain nicknamed “the butcher of Paoua” after a
northwestern town that saw brutal government repression in 2005-07.
Sende also mentioned the case of former minister and rebel leader Charles Massi, who was “arrested in Chad in 2010, handed over to the Central African authorities and executed by president Bozize’s guard.”
The 66-year-old deposed leader, who seized power in a 2003 coup and was subsequently elected president twice in polls widely condemned as fraudulent, has sought refuge in Cameroon.
The interim government with rebel leader Michel Djotodia as president has vowed to hold free and fair polls at the end of an 18-month transition period.
But the rebels have struggled to maintain order and have themselves been accused of taking part in a looting and killing spree in the country of 4.5 million people.
In April, Bozize himself called for an international probe into the unrest in Bangui.
Central African Republic has been wracked by a series of coups and rebellions since its independence from France in 1960.