Skip to main content

Members of Gbagbo inner circle indicted

By Monica Mark, For CNN
Members of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo, pictured here with his wife Simone after their arrest on April 11, face trial.
Members of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo, pictured here with his wife Simone after their arrest on April 11, face trial.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Gbagbo's party calls the charges a "shock"
  • Members of Gbagbo's inner circle now face trial
  • Charges include breach of national security, conspiring against state authority, insurrection and setting up armed groups
  • Human rights groups say both sides committed potential crimes against humanity
RELATED TOPICS

Abidjan, Ivory Coast (CNN) -- Twelve members of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo's inner circle have been indicted for crimes relating to the post-electoral crisis that left over 3,000 dead.

A bloody six month stand-off ensued after Gbagbo refused to step down following a loss at presidential polls in November. So-called "death squads" targeted those perceived to support his opponent, Alassane Ouattara, who himself was forced to rely on U.N. protection after pro-Gbagbo soldiers surrounded his Abidjan lagoon-side hotel.

Among those charged are Gbagbo's son Michel, former party leader Affi N'Guessan, and former prime minister Gilbert Aké N'Gbo. They had been under house arrest in various locations in the north and centre of the country.

Noël Dje, a representative of the Office of the Public Prosecutor, told CNN those indicted remain under arrest. The charges are: breach of national security, conspiring against state authority, insurrection and setting up armed groups, he said. A trial date hasn't yet been fixed, Dje added.

Gbagbo and his wife Simone -- whom the United Nations says was responsible for organizing the death squads -- haven't yet been charged. Since being pulled out of a bunker beneath the presidential palace on April 11, both have been under house arrest in the northern staunchly pro-Ouattara towns of Korhogo and Katiola. Ouattara has invited the International Criminal Court to open proceedings against them.

A high-ranking official from Gbagbo's Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) party told CNN the charges come as a "shock."

"According to our information, everything happened out of the blue yesterday, with no warning. 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," the official said.

Speaking on condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisal, the official said an emergency party meeting would be convened to discuss what "further steps to now take."

The members of the inner circle and the Gbagbos are being held under a colonial-era law that allows anyone considered a threat to national security to be kept under house arrest indefinitely.

Human-rights groups say both sides committed potential crimes against humanity during the six post-electoral conflict, and have accused Ouattara's government of implementing a one-sided justice since taking the reins of power.

"Despite frequent promises of impartial justice, the Ouattara government has not charged anyone from the Republican Forces -- the troops that supported him in removing Gbagbo and that are now the country's military -- for the grave crimes committed during the post-election period," Human Rights Watch said in a statement on August 5.

Around 70 Gbagbo loyalists have been charged by military or civilian courts, while an international arrest warrant has been issued for Charles Blé Goudé, the leader of the pro-Gbagbo Young Patriots militia. Another international warrant has been issued against Koné Mamadou, a "prophet" close to the Gbagbos whose partisan "prophecies" fuelled a frenzy of violence in the last days of the conflict.

Ouattara Sunday said he was extending an "olive branch" to former members of Gbagbo's party. Many remain in exile in Ghana and other neighboring countries.

 
Quick Job Search