Ivory Coast investigates ministers in blood crimes

AP , Saturday 16 Apr 2011

Officials in Ivory Coast are drawing up a list of ministers, generals and journalists to be charged with blood crimes, corruption and hate speech

Ivory Coast
Soldiers from the Republican Forces of Ivory Coast (FRCI) prepare for a patrol with French forces from Operation Licorne in Ivory Coast's main city Abidjan, April 16, 2011. Abidjan port terminals are likely to resume loadings of cargo such as cocoa from early next week, according to a senior official with shipping group Maersk. REUTERS

Top of the list is Charles Ble Goude, youth minister in the disgraced government of arrested former President Laurent Gbagbo, who organized a violent anti-French and anti-U.N. gang that has terrorized foreigners and ordinary civilians,  the justice minister responsible for human rights told The Associated Press on Saturday.

On Friday, a government spokesman said Ble Goude had been arrested. But Justice Minister Jeannot Ahoussou said that was a case of mistaken identity.

Ble Goude is known as the "street general" for organizing the violent gang that terrorized Ivory Coast's foreign population between 2004 and 2005. More recently he incited his Young Patriots, a militia-like gang of thugs, to attack foreigners as well as supporters of democratically elected President Alassane Ouattara.

Hundreds of people have been killed since Gbagbo refused to accept his defeat at November elections and turned heavy weapons on civilians. Pro-Ouattara fighters captured him Monday after U.N. and French forces bombed the presidential residence where he had taken refuge in a fortified underground bunker.

Friday night state television broadcast video of the capture of Gen. Brunot Dogo Ble, head of the Republican Guard that stood beside Gbagbo and fought fiercely in Abidjan, the commercial capital and seat of government.

"We are investigating every member of the Cabinet of Mr.

Gbagbo for blood crimes, money crimes, buying guns and other arms," Ahoussou told the AP in a telephone interview.

He said he also was investigating journalists who broadcast hate speech. Gbagbo had turned the state Radio Television Ivoirienne into a propaganda organ that broadcast statements inciting violence against tribes loyal to Ouattara.

Former rebel forces that fought to install Ouattara also are accused of atrocities, including the slaughter of hundreds of civilians in western Ivory Coast, a stronghold of Gbagbo's Bete tribe and allied Guere people.

Ouattara said this week that Gbagbo will be tried by both national and international courts for his alleged crimes.
The International Criminal Court in The Hague has said it is conducting a preliminary examination into crimes perpetrated by all sides in the conflict in this West African nation.

The telephone line broke as a journalist was asking the minister whether he also would be investigating pro-Ouattara forces that perpetrated crimes. Telephone communications are poor throughout the country including in Abidjan.

State television on Friday night also broadcast an appeal by French Ambassador Jean-Marc Simon for witnesses to come forward in the April 4 kidnappings of two Frenchmen, a Malaysian and a citizen of Benin from the downtown Hotel Novotel. They were seized by pro-Gbagbo troops.

Simon asked for anyone with knowledge of their whereabouts or where they might have been taken to let him know.
The city of Abidjan also worked to recover from the siege earlier this month. On Saturday, residents of the Adjame neighborhood burned bodies and trash in a cleanup effort.

An AP photographer saw two burning bodies and residents said there were other bodies in a huge pile of burning trash.
"There are too many bodies to count," one resident said, when asked how many bodies had been burned.
Some said it was the first time they were venturing out in two weeks.

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