ICoast holding kidnappers of four foreigners: Ouattara
Ivory Coast has arrested a number of militia behind the kidnapping of four foreigners, including two French citizens, on April 4, President Alassane Ouattara said Sunday.
"We received information on the basis of which certain militia who kidnapped them (the foreigners) could be arrested. They named the ringleaders, and we are following the chain," he told France 24 in an interview.
Ouattara added: ""We are following this issue very closely."
The manager of the Novotel hotel in Abidjan, Stephane Frantz di Rippel, and fellow French national Yves Lambelin, who heads a company that exports agricultural products, were taken captured by armed men last month.
Also kidnapped were Chelliah Pandian, a Malaysian, and Raoul Adeossi of Benin, who both worked with Lambelin.
At the time, Abidjan was mired in clashes between Ouattara supporters and forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to relinquish the presidency after being declared the loser of November presidential elections.
In Ivory Coast Saturday to attend Ouattara's inauguration, French President Nicolas Sarkozy told an expatriate audience at a French military base he would do everything possible to ensure the French citizens are returned safely.
Ivorian Justice Minister Jeannot Kouadio Ahoussou told AFP Thursday that the investigation is going "very, very well."
"We are on the right track," she said.
In Sunday's interview, Ouattara reiterated that Gbagbo, under house arrest in the north of the country, should face domestic and international prosecution.
"There are categories that are relevant to Ivorian tribunals," he said, listing crimes including "confiscating power after the results of an election" and corruption.
"But we have at the same time war crimes, crimes against humanity, violent crimes. We think and we ask that Laurent Gbagbo be judged by the International Criminal Court," he said.
ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo on May 3 said his office was preparing to launch a formal probe into alleged mass killings in Ivory Coast.
Ouattara confirmed that his ally Guillaume Soro of the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast would be appointed prime minister, consistent with his previously stated plans to form a government including various political camps.
The president said he hoped that members of Gbagbo's Ivorian Popular Front would also join his national unity government.
© 2011 AFP