Twelve members of former Côte d’Ivoire president Laurent Gbagbo’s inner circle have been charged with crimes relating to the post-election violence which left 3,000 people dead. Lawyers for the accused are crying foul, saying that they didn’t have time to prepare for the enormity of the charges. By SIPHO HLONGWANE.
Among the accused are Gbagbo’s son Michel, former party leader Affi N’Guessan, and former prime minister Gilbert Aké N’Gbo – though Laurent Gbagbo himself and his wife aren’t facing charges. The charges include breaches of national security, conspiring against state authority, insurrection and setting up armed groups. Gbagbo and his wife formed death squads that wreaked havoc in Abidjan, says the United Nations.
A high-ranking official in Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front told CNN they were completely blindsided by the suddenness with which the charges had been brought. “According to our information, everything happened out of the blue yesterday, with no warning,” he said. “The various lawyers had no time to co-ordinate. Why was there no pre-trial for such massive crimes? The whole thing makes a mockery of Ouattara’s claim to extend the olive branch.”
Members of Gbagbo’s inner circle who were arrested in Abidjan by forces loyal to President Alassane Ouattara are under house arrest in various towns in the northern part of Côte d’Ivoire.
In total, about 70 Gbagbo loyalists have been arrested and face trials in civilian and military courts. International arrest warrants for Charles Blé Goudé, the leader of the pro-Gbagbo Young Patriots militia and Koné Mamadou, a prophet who preached violence against Ouattara’s supporters, still stand. DM
Photo: Ivory Coast’s Laurent Gbagbo (L) and his wife Simone sit in a room at Hotel Golf in Abidjan, after they were arrested, April 11, 2011. REUTERS/Stringer.
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