Ivorian War Crimes Suspects Fear Persecution After Extradition

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Eight Ivoirians wanted by Ivory Coast’s authorities for war crimes, have expressed fear that they would face death when returned to their homeland after a Monrovia Magisterial Court’s ruling Wednesday July 4, 2014 ordered their extradition.

The defendants are accused of killing seven UN peacekeepers amongst other war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during Ivory Coast’s civil war.

They lack any prospect of a fair trial in the Ivory Coast for various reasons including their being kinsmen of former president Laurent Gbagbo. They would   rather be tried in Liberia. Gbagbo, himself, is being tried at the International Criminal Court in The Hague for the deaths and destructions resulting from the 2012 post election disturbances blamed on him. He lost the election to current President Alassane Ouattara.

All eight defendants denied their participation in any form of belligerence that country political or otherwise. They were arrested in 2012 in the Duotee refugee camp in Grand Gedeh County. They are accused of being amongst several pro-Laurent Gbagbo fighters who are being held accountable for series of attacks against civilian populations and UN peacekeepers.

They were charged in absentia by their government with the crimes of murder, rape, arson, illegal possession of firearms, criminal conspiracy and theft of property.

“ I was a refugee and teacher in Liberia under the supervision of the LRRRC ( the Liberian refugee agency) and UNHCR after fleeing the political crisis in my country,” defendant Namlin Relix Anbtiube said when he took the witness stand.

Another defendant, Blea Nicaise, said, ‘’ I am an Ivorian refugee in Liberia under the protection of UNHCR, LRRRC and the Government of Liberia. I have never handled a gun and have never gone back across the border to kill mu president Allasane Ouattara as alleged.”

Defense lawyer, Cllr. Amara Sheriff, accepted to ruling Magistrate J. Kennedy Peabody and announced an appeal to Criminal Court “A”.

Liberia has, since the last six years, already surrendered a total of 41 wanted men into the custody of Ivorian authorities upon request to face multiple charges of war crimes for their alleged roles during their country’s 2012 post-election violence.

During legal arguments back in 2016, now Solicitor General Cllr. Daku Mulbah said the Liberian government filed the petition based on an extradition treaty entered into with Ivory Coast on August 24, 1972, and later ratified on August 18, 1973, by the legislature.

But in counter arguments, Cllr. Amara Sheriff said although there was an extradition treaty between Liberia and Ivory Coast, there was no instrument to show that the Liberian Legislature ratified it.

Writes P. Nas Mulbah