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CAR to investigate ex-leader Bozizé for rights abuses

AFP

The Central African Republic is to investigate ousted leader François Bozizé, who was deposed in a coup on March 24, for human rights abuses, Justice Minister Arsene Sende said on Saturday.

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A month after he was ousted from power, the Central African Republic's interim government has opened a probe into human rights abuses committed under ousted president François Bozizé, Justice Minister Arsene Sende said Saturday.

The minister told national radio he had instructed prosecutors to open an investigation "because crimes and other grave human rights violations were committed and continue to be committed by ex-president François Bozizé and some of his allies."

Bozizé, 66, was ousted on March 24 by the Seleka rebel coalition in the latest coup in the chronically unstable impoverished former French colony, and has since fled to Cameroon

Sende alluded to "assassinations, illegal and arbitrary detentions, torture, destruction of homes, kidnappings, summary and extra judicial executions, inciting hatred and genocide, economic crimes and acts compromising civil peace."

Sende cited the alleged execution of 119 people by Bozizé's bodyguards, without specifying a date.

He also accused Bozizé of being behind the 2010 disappearance of former minister and leader of the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP) rebel group, Colonel Charles Massi.

"He was arrested in the beginning of 2010 in Chad and handed to Central African authorities, then executed by Bozizé's security detail," he said.

Sende said about a dozen Seleka rebels or allies of its leaders were executed on the eve of the coup by an officer in Bozizé's presidential guard.

He said the probe would also look into the fate of numerous political prisoners in the Bossembele military camp 150 kilometers (93 miles) northeast of Bangui, allegedly locked up on Bozizé's orders.

Investigators would also look into the alleged embezzlement of public money by Bozizé and his allies.

An interim government with coup leader Michel Djotodia as president has vowed to hold free and fair polls at the end of an 18-month transition period.

The Central African Republic has been plagued by violence since independence from France in 1960. At least four battles for Bangui took place from 1996 until 2003, when Bozizé toppled predecessor Ange-Felix Patasse, whom he served as army chief.

The country remains one of the poorest nations on earth although it has largely untapped mineral wealth including uranium, gold and diamonds.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

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