Gbagbo men killed snatched executives: I Coast minister

22nd June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Forces of Ivory Coast ex-president Laurent Gbagbo tortured and killed four men, including a French hotel manager, kidnapped at the height of April's leadership conflict, a minister alleged.

The two Frenchmen, a Malaysian and a Benin national were taken to the presidential palace after they were snatched from the Novotel hotel in Abidjan on April 4, Justice Minister Jeannot Kouadio Ahoussou told reporters late Tuesday.

They were "tortured, beaten", and a "police superintendent finished off these people", alleged the minister in the new government of President Alassane Ouattara.

Their bodies were wrapped in black plastic bags used to cover bananas and thrown behind the perimeter of the place and later into a lagoon, the minister said.

The superintendent and seven other pro-Gbagbo security force members, including two colonels and a major of his personal guard, were under arrest, he said.

The motive for the kidnapping is unclear. It came as French and UN forces joined in action against Gbagbo, who had for nearly five months refused to give up power after losing elections in November last year to Ouattara.

The French nationals were Novotel Abidjan general manager Stephane Frantz di Rippel and Yves Lambelin, chief executive office of leading vegetable oil, rubber and sugar supplier Sifca.

The other men were Lambelin's assistant, Beninese Raoul Adeossi, and Malaysian Chelliah Pandian, director general of Sifca palm oil subsidiary Sania.

Gbagbo was arrested April 11, ending the bloody conflict. He is still under arrest, as are dozens of his supporters, although charges against them have yet to be laid.

Rights groups have alleged abuses including murder were committed by both sides in the conflict, which Ouatarra's camp says left around 3,000 people dead.

© 2011 AFP

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