UN report cites Ivory Coast leaders for atrocities

28th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 28 (AFP) - Leaders of both sides in divided Ivory Coast, among them President Laurent Gbagbo's influential wife Simone and rebel chief Guillaume Soro, are among 95 people suspected of serious human rights violations by the United Nations, French radio said Friday.

PARIS, Jan 28 (AFP) - Leaders of both sides in divided Ivory Coast, among them President Laurent Gbagbo's influential wife Simone and rebel chief Guillaume Soro, are among 95 people suspected of serious human rights violations by the United Nations, French radio said Friday.

Radio France Internationale (RFI) said the names of the 95 appeared as a secret appendix to a highly critical UN report on Ivory Coast revealed last month, adding that the compilers had recommended that they be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Soro is accused of carrying out summary executions, while Simone Gbagbo is said to have sponsored death squads headed by, among other people, the president's defence and security adviser Kadet Bertin, RFI said.

Also reportedly on the list is Charles Ble Goude, leader of pro-Gbagbo militia known as Young Patriots, allegedly responsible for kidnappings, incitement to violence and racial hatred and disturbing public order.

RFI said the list was drawn up by five investigators of the world body's human rights commission who spent two months in the West African country, and had recommended that the UN Security Council take up the matter with the ICC.

The main 100-page UN report leaked last month outlined horrific examples of death squads, mass executions, torture and rape in Ivory Coast during the past two years and blamed both sides for the atrocities.

It covered the period from a failed coup against Gbagbo in September 2002 up to October this year, shortly before the country was again rocked by violence, sparked by Ivorian air force bombing raids on rebel-held cities in the north.

A still unspecified number of Ivorian civilians are reported to have been killed in the raids, along with nine French peacekeepers and a US aid worker, whose deaths in the last attack brought swift retaliation from France, which wiped out the tiny Ivory Coast air force.

That in turn sparked hate attacks targeting mainly the French expatriate community in the former French west African colony, the world's leading cocoa producer, forcing some 8,000 to flee the country.

In October 2002, after forces loyal to Gbagbo failed to recapture the rebel stronghold of Bouake from the rebels, 131 unarmed civilians, including children, were "coldly executed" by rebels who also led a deadly manhunt for anyone associated with the authorities, according to the report.

In December that year, Ivorian forces killed 120 immigrant workers in cocoa and coffee plantations at Monoko-Zohi, while Liberian mercenaries working for the regime massacred 200 people in Bangolo.

The report also cited cases of torture including a woman forced to drink blood and urine and a man who was forced to have sex with his mother. She was then killed, and he was ordered to drink her blood.

Women of all ages, including children, were "used to assuage the bestial appetites of the combatants, some of whom were under the influence of drugs," it said.

Ble Goude Friday denied suggestions by the Ivorian Human Rights Movement that Young Patriots had coordinated the anti-French demonstrations of last November, including arming protestors with machetes and clubs.

The rights group's report Thursday conflicted with Gbagbo's claim that French peacekeeping forces had fired on and killed unarmed Ivorians.

Ble Goude told AFP he had engaged British lawyers to take legal action against France "in the name of the victims."

© AFP

Subject: French News

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