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Africa
Ivory Coast charges former president
Laurent Gbagbo and his wife charged with crimes ranging from armed robbery to looting.
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2011 10:26
Gbagbo refused to concede November's presidential election and was forced out after a bloody civil war [Reuters]

Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and his wife Simone, detained since he was ousted
from power in April, have been charged with "economic crimes, armed robbery, looting and embezzlement",
the public prosecutor has said.

Simplice Kouadio Koffi said Gbagbo was charged on Thursday and his wife on Tuesday. Both have been moved from house arrest in the north of the country to jail.

Gbagbo's spokesman called the move "illegal".

President Alassane Ouattara's government has been moving against many members of the former administration since prevailing in a civil war which followed disputed presidential elections.

Gbagbo's supporters are accused of using violence against civilians seen as pro-Ouattara during and after the disputed November poll and of looting the treasury to remain in power.

"The pre-trial judge has just called me to say he has finished charging Mr Gbagbo," Koffi said.

"And last Tuesday, Mrs Gbagbo was charged and moved into preventative detention.

"The charges are: economic infraction, armed robbery, looting, embezzlement of public goods."

Ivorian authorities charged 57 soldiers from Gbagbo's regime last Thursday with crimes ranging from murder and kidnapping to attacking state security and buying illegal arms.

Last week, the former head of Gbagbo's party, Pascal Affi N'Guessan, and 11 others were charged with attacking state security and backing the former president's refusal to concede the poll.

Truth and reconciliation

Gbagbo was almost universally condemned by Western powers and African leaders for rejecting UN certified results showing he had lost the election to Ouattara last year.

His refusal to transfer power and his use of security forces against demonstrators left about 3,000 people dead and a million uprooted before he was ousted.

Ouattara has invited the International Criminal Court to try the most serious crimes committed during the crisis, but he also wants a South Africa-style Truth and Reconciliation process to heal the country's wounds -two aims which may conflict.

Gbagbo spokesman Justin Kone Katinan said by telephone from exile in Ghana saidthe charged would "complicate the process of reconciliation by making the political atmosphere more tense".

"It is illegal because Gbagbo is a former president who enjoys immunity: he can't be charged or judged," he said.

"You can't claim to want reconciliation and humiliate Gbagbo in this manner. You are playing with fire."

Critics complain that none of Ouattara's men has been detained, despite evidence that they too have committed abuses.

The UN mission accused Ouattara's forces last Thursday of carrying out 26 extrajudicial killings over the past month.

Source:
Agencies
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