France offers ICC info for I.Coast massacre probe

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France has documentation that could be used by the International Criminal Court to probe alleged massacres in strife-torn Ivory Coast, Defence Minister Gerard Longuet said on Thursday.

"We have documentation available to the ICC if necessary for what we witnessed in the only area we have a deployment, which is intermittent as it's linked to the protection of French citizens," Longuet told lawmakers.

He did not elaborate on what had been witnessed, but forces loyal to rival presidents Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara have both been accused of involvement in massacres during their months-long deadly stand-off.

Longuet pointed out that France's Licorne (Unicorn) military mission is only deployed in the commercial capital Abidjan to back up the UN's UNOCI peacekeeping mission, which is itself deployed around the west African nation.

ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo on Wednesday said he planned to launch a formal probe into alleged mass killings in Ivory Coast.

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

Mass graves have also been alleged in and around Abidjan.

© 2011 AFP

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