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Ivory Coast called on to respond to ICC

Oct. 3, 2013 at 9:48 AM

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Ivory Coast needs to weigh in on the latest arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for a former minister, a rights group said Thursday.

The ICC unsealed an arrest warrant Tuesday for former Ivorian Youth Minister Charles Ble Goude for war crimes. The court said he bears responsibility for four counts of crimes against humanity, "namely murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution, and other inhuman acts, allegedly committed" during post-election conflicts from December 2010 to April 2010.

Human Rights Watch said the former minister is facing war crimes charges at home, where he's been in prison since January. He was arrested in Ghana and later extradited to Ivory Coast.

Matt Wells, research director for African affairs at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement from Johannesburg victims of Ble Goude's militias deserve justice.

"Now that the ICC warrant has been unsealed, the Ivorian government should waste no time in surrendering him to The Hague or in making the case to the ICC judges that they can and will move forward with a fair trial in Ivory Coast," he said.

The ICC said Ble Goude allegedly had power to give orders to Ivorian youth who were recruited into the military to serve as mercenaries loyal to former President Laurent Gbagbo, himself facing trial at the ICC.

At least 3,000 Ivorians were killed during the post-election conflict. Ble Goude says he's innocent.

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