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International Arrest Warrant Issued for Former Central African Republic President - 2003-08-27

An international warrant has been issued for the arrest of the former president of Central African Republic, Ange-Felix Patasse. Mr. Patasse is wanted for murder and theft of more than $100 million from the state treasury.

Ange-Felix Patasse, currently in exile in Togo, has denounced the international arrest warrant as illegal. He says that the warrant is an attempt to prevent him from returning home to participate in next month's national reconciliation dialogue.

The chief prosecutor of the Central African Republic is charging Mr. Patasse with a range of crimes, including murder, rape, assault, sharing intelligence with a foreign power and undermining the internal and external security of the state.

The prosecutor had already arrested a minister in Mr. Patasse's government on charges of corruption and embezzlement.

While in power, Mr. Patasse invited Congolese fighters into the country and he is now being charged with the crimes those fighters allegedly committed. The arrest warrant also accuses him of embezzling some $115 million of state funds.

Mr. Patasse held power in Central African Republic for nearly a decade before he was ousted last March by General Francois Bozize.

A national conference on reconciliation is due to take place next month, but the presence of Mr. Patasse remains a contentious issue.