War crimes prosecutor to probe ICoast atrocities: court

3rd October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Judges at the world war crimes court Monday gave prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo the green light to investigate atrocities committed after Ivory Coast's disputed elections last year.

The Hague-based International Criminal Court said in a statement that it had "granted the Prosecutors request to commence an investigation in Côte dIvoire". It said the decision was made last Friday.

The investigation relates to crimes committed since the November 28 presidential election "as well as with regards to crimes that may be committed in the future context of the situation," the court said.

The judges also asked Moreno-Ocampo to return within a month with any additional information of crimes committed between 2002 and 2010.

Moreno-Ocampo on June 23 asked judges' authorisation to mount an inquiry into widespread violence that followed the elections, in which more than 3,000 people were killed.

The cocoa-rich country's new President Alassane Ouattara was sworn-in in May this year after a five-month battle with forces loyal to long-time leader Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to give up power.

The newly-inaugurated Ouattara asked Moreno-Ocampo in a letter dated May 3 to investigate "the most serious crimes" committed during the fighting.

UN investigators have already said they found evidence of possible crimes against humanity by supporters of both camps.

Several hundred people were reportedly massacred in the western town of Duekoue, with forces loyal to rivals Gbagbo and Ouattara blaming each other.

Ivory Coast has been under preliminary examination by Moreno-Ocampo's office since October 1, 2003 after its government accepted the jurisdiction of the ICC.

The Hague-based world crimes court can only try war crimes and crimes against humanity if courts in a specific country are unable, or unwilling to do so.

© 2011 AFP

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