Sunday, January 20, 2013
By Edmund Mingle
The government has extradited Charles Ble Goude, the fugitive Ivorian youth leader, after his arrest in the country last Thursday.
Ble Goude, who was being sought by his country and the International Criminal Court to answer war crime charges in connection with the electoral violence in Cote d’Ivoire, was sent back to his country on Friday, barely 24 hours after his capture.
Sources at National Security confirmed to the Times that the suspect, who has been in hiding since April 2011, was duly handed over to Ivorian security, and was currently in custody.
The swift extradition surprised his lawyers who were said to be preparing to launch a legal fight against the extraction.
He is the second high-profile Ivorian close to former president Gbagbo to be arrested in Ghana after Justin Kone Katinan, who has been fighting his extradition to Cote d’Ivoire in a Magistrate Court in Accra, since his arrest last year.
Ble Goude, who fled Cote d’Ivoire across its eastern border into Ghana after President Gbagbo, is said to been implicated in human rights crimes during the fighting between supporters of Gbagbo and President Alassane Ouattara, during the disputed elections.
He was apprehended in Ghana during a joint police operation between Ghana and Ivory Coast last Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Ivorian government has explained in a statement that Ble Goude was currently being held in Ivory Coast by Ivorian police authorities in the framework of judicial proceedings already launched against him in Ivory Coast.
He is being accused of running a militia which masterminded the killings of hundreds of people during the civil war resulting from the election dispute in 2010.
But Mr. Ble Goude denies the accusations, claiming that as leader of the Young Patriots group, a political youth wing, he had only organised rallies and meetings, but never run a militia.
In 2006, Mr. Ble Goude was first put under UN sanctions after he was accused of inciting attacks against UN personnel.
Meanwhile, Huma Right Watch has described Ble Goude’s arrest as a significant opportunity to continue the process of accountability for victims of the crises in Cote d’Ivoire.
In a statement, Corinne Dufka, Senior West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch, also commended Ghana for the action.
“Ble Goude arrest shows that Ghanaian authorities are taking steps to ensure the country will not be used as a safe haven from justice,” Dufka said.
He said Ghanaian authorities now needed to accord Ble Goude his full rights, including ensuring that there was no credible risk of inhuman treatment or torture if they extradited him to Cote d’Ivoire.