ICC asks to investigate Ivory Coast

June 23, 2011 at 10:13 AM
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THE HAGUE, Netherlands, June 23 (UPI) -- The chief prosecutor at the ICC asked judges for permission to investigate crimes in Ivory Coast, the first for a country that doesn't accept its jurisdiction.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, asked ICC judges for permission to open a case involving possible war crimes and crimes against humanity alleged to have been committed in Ivory Coast since November.

Ivory Coast was pushed to the brink of civil war following a political stalemate that last from November to April. The international community recognized Alassane Ouattara as the winner of a November election though incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo refused to stand down.

The ICC estimates at least 3,000 people were killed in the ensuing violence. There were also 100 reported cases of rape and 520 people were arbitrarily arrested.

Ouattara requested the investigation in a letter to the ICC. Humanitarian groups and the ICC said there is cause to believe both sides of the conflict committed crimes that fall under the court's jurisdiction.

Ivory Coast isn't party to the Rome Statute that created the ICC. If the judges approve the request, it would be the first investigation into a state that doesn't formally recognize the ICC's jurisdiction.

Gbagbo was arrested with the help of French peacekeepers at a compound in the commercial capital Abidjan in April.

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