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Ivorian police arrest aide to Laurent Gbagbo

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-08-27

A top aide to ex-Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo was detained by police on Sunday, 18 months after a bloody war allowed his rival, elected President Alassane Ouattara, to take office. Laurent Akoun (pictured) was secretary general of Gbagbo’s party.

AFP - The secretary general of Laurent Gbagbo's party was arrested Sunday, the third key aide of Ivory Coast's former president to be detained recently, party and security sources said.

"Laurent Akoun was arrested by the police in the early afternoon in Adzope," said Sylvain Miaka Oureto, president of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), referring to a town 160 kilometres (100 miles) north of Abidjan.

A security source confirmed the report.

"He is at the police station in Abidjan," Oureto added.

AFP has been unable to determine the official reason for Akoun's arrest, but an Ivorian government source said that the FPI secretary-general was recently named as being implicated in certain deadly attacks against the Ivorian army.

Several of Gbagbo's key aides have been arrested this month.

Another important leader of the FPI, former minister Alphonse Douati, was arrested on August 18 and later charged with "violating state security" and remanded in custody.

Ghana meanwhile confirmed Sunday the arrest of Gbagbo's spokesman Kone Katinan Justin who sought refuge in the country after the collapse of Gbagbo's regime.

"Kone Katinan Justin, a former Ivorian minister in charge of budget and spokesman of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo has been arrested by Ghanaian security and is being kept in custody here in Ghana," a statement from the ministry of information said.

Katinan was arrested on Friday under an August 2011 warrant for alleged economic crimes as budget minister during three months of crisis and conflict that followed Gbagbo's refusal to cede power to his rival Alassane Ouattara following 2010 elections.

A source in Ivory Coast's current government, led by President Alassane Ouattara, said Katinan was expected back in Abidjan this weekend to face Ivorian justice.

But Ghana's statement said no decision had been made yet on extradition.

"Mr. Kone... holds a refugee card from the Ghana Refugee Board which is also recognised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees," the statement signed by Deputy Information Minister Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa said.

"President John Dramani Mahama in accordance with the Ghanaian Constitution has since asked the attorney general and minister of justice to study the extradition instruments and advice accordingly," it concluded.

His family said Sunday that they were awaiting a decision from Ghana's president on his fate.

A family member, noting that Katinan's political refugee status has just been renewed, said that he had told his wife that extradition was "out of the question".

Ghana cannot extradite a refugee unless it is proven that "the exile is a threat for the origin country, which has never been seen," his lawyer Lucie Bourthoumieux said from Accra.

Katinan has been accused in Ivory Coast of being behind a series of bank robberies to keep Gbagbo's camp in funds.

Gbagbo is currently in custody at The Hague, where he faces charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court.

Ouattara, who returned to Abidjan Sunday after a visit to Saudi Arabia and a private visit to France, would not comment on Katinan's case.

But he called recent attacks against the Ivorian army "reprehensible and unacceptable".

"I have asked for the appropriate measures to be taken in order to boost security on the territory," the president said.

An exchange of shots between soldiers and unidentified individuals at an army control post close to Grand-Lahou -- about 140 kilometres to the west of Abidjan ended Saturday with the death of a soldier and five attackers, an official toll issued Sunday said.

Date created : 2012-08-27

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