I Coast youth leader asks govt to reject ICC warrant
25 October 2013, 00:08
Abidjan - Charles Ble Goude, wanted by the International
Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and an ally of Ivory Coast's
ex-president Laurent Gbagbo, should be tried by an Ivorian court and not sent
to The Hague, the ex-youth leader's lawyers said.
Gbagbo, who refused to give up power after losing a runoff
election in 2010, has been in the ICC's custody since November 2011, accused of
responsibility for rapes, murders, persecution and inhuman acts committed
during the post-election fighting that killed around 3 000 people.
The ICC earlier this month made public a warrant for Ble
Goude, who headed the notorious Young Patriots street militia and served as
youth minister in Gbagbo's last cabinet, for his alleged role in the violence.
"We ask that the Ivorian government does not agree to
transfer him to the ICC, because we think the Ivorian justice system is capable
... of doing it here," Claver N'Dri, one of his lawyers, told a press
conference in Abidjan on Wednesday.
Though the government of President Alassane Ouattara agreed
to hand over Gbagbo, it has become less keen on cooperating with the
international court as it comes under fire from African governments who say it
unfairly targets the continent.
The African Union and Kenya asked the UN Security Council
this week to defer ICC trials of Kenya's leaders for a year so they can deal
with the aftermath of the Nairobi mall attack.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto face
charges of crimes against humanity related to violence that followed Kenya's
2007 elections, in which 1 200 people died.
Both deny the charges and have tried to have the
prosecutions adjourned or halted.
Incitement of hatred
Last month Ivory Coast said it would try former first lady
Simone Gbagbo, who is also being sought by the ICC, in a domestic court.
"We say that what is valid for Simone Gbagbo is also
valid for Charles Ble Goude. The Ivorian justice system is already pursuing him
and he is in detention here. So he must be judged in Ivory Coast," N'Dri
Ouattara's government has so far declined to say whether it
would deliver Ble Goude to The Hague-based court.
Ble Goude's lawyers also requested the government release
him pending his trial, claiming that doing so would help Ivory Coast's efforts
to foster reconciliation.
The ICC is seeking to charge Ble Goude, who was arrested in
Ghana and extradited to Ivory Coast in January, with four counts of crimes
against humanity, including murder and rape, committed between December 2010
and April 2011.
Ble Goude denies the accusations, his lawyers said.
Ivorian authorities accuse him of kidnappings, illegal
detentions, torture, incitement of hatred and economic crimes while a member of
Gbagbo's inner circle.
He is also the target of United Nations-imposed sanctions
including a travel ban and asset freeze.