Gbagbo denies plan to sue France for attack

30th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

ABIDJAN, Nov 29 (AFP) - Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo denied Monday that he had filed suit with the International Court of Justice over France's destruction of his tiny airforce.

ABIDJAN, Nov 29 (AFP) - Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo denied Monday that he had filed suit with the International Court of Justice over France's destruction of his tiny airforce.

In a statement issued from his office, a copy of which was received by AFP, Gbagbo insisted there were no plans to file suit against anyone and that lawyers claiming to be acting on his behalf had not been granted permission to do so.

Attorney Patricia Hamza, lawmaker Richard Secre and presidential adviser Alain Toussaint told AFP on Sunday in Brussels that the west African state planned to take former colonial power France to the ICJ, the highest judicial body for the United Nations.

The suit, which Hamza said was to be brought to the court in the Hague on Monday, would charge France for violating defense pacts linking the two countries and the destruction of the fleet.

"A complaint lodged by the state of Ivory Coast against the French state .... is the next logical step in this crisis," said Hamza.

Added Toussaint: "The French authorities must explain these excesses and these grave mistakes that are contrary to fundamental laws." Presidential spokesman Desire Trago told AFP that neither Hamza nor Toussaint had the authority to bring any lawsuit on behalf of Ivory Coast.

"They were authorized by no one," he said. "Mr Toussaint is not the adviser of anyone, and Mrs Hamza was not engaged by the president."

Nine French troops and a US aid worker were killed in an Ivorian government air raid on a French military base in the central town of Bouake on November 6, one in a series of strikes on positions in the rebel-held north that Gbagbo has said was an operation to "reunify" the divided country.

France wiped out the Ivorian airforce to retaliate, unleashing a torrent of anti-foreigner violence in the main city Abidjan that the Red Cross has said left some 3,000 people wounded.

Ivorian government tolls put the number of fatalities at around 60, although there has been no independent confirmation of the deaths.

French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie acknowledged Sunday that French troops may have been responsible for some Ivorian casualties during the riots, backing off earlier claims that the deaths and injuries came during clashes between demonstrators and local police.

"They were forced to shoot. They carried out warning shots and, in a few cases, were forced to make full use of their firearms. There was no way of avoiding it," Alliot-Marie told RTL radio.

"There were doubtless a few victims. We don't know for certain because when things happen at night it is very difficult to know what is going on."

© AFP

Subject: French News

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