THE HAGUE, Netherlands, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- The International Criminal Court announced Thursday it was expanding its probe into war crimes in Ivory Coast to include those allegedly committed since 2002.
Former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo was handed over to The Hague in October to face charges of crimes against humanity committed after disputed November 2010 elections. The ICC announced Thursday it was expanding its probe to included crimes allegedly committed since 2002.
"The chamber expands its authorization for the investigation in Ivory Coast to include crimes within the jurisdiction of the court allegedly committed between Sept. 19, 2002, and Nov. 28, 2010," the court declared.
Gbagbo refused to step down despite international agreement that Alassane Ouattara won the 2010 election. The election was meant to unite a country divided by earlier civil war but post-election violence left at least 3,000 people dead.
Human rights groups say both sides to the conflict in Ivory Coast likely committed atrocities during the post-election violence. A national commission of inquiry is working on its report on the conflict.
Human Rights Watch urged Ivorian authorities to extend the mandate for the national inquiry to ensure an impartial and comprehensive investigation is conducted. The group said the committee only started its work in January, suggesting it's unlikely all of the alleged atrocities were documented.