Prosecutors want green light for Ivory Coast probe

AP News
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Posted: Jun 22, 2011 11:33 AM
Prosecutors want green light for Ivory Coast probe

International Criminal Court prosecutors said Wednesday they will request authorization from judges to launch an investigation into possible war crimes committed in Ivory Coast.

Prosecutors have been conducting a preliminary probe into the West African nation since 2003, but it took on renewed urgency following violence that erupted after November's presidential election.

Thousands of people were killed after former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to cede power to opposition leader Alassane Ouattara after losing the election.

In May, Ouattara was finally sworn in and has asked the international court to investigate crimes committed by both sides during the postelection crisis.

After studying evidence gathered by both sides of the conflict and local and international investigators, prosecutors concluded there is "a reasonable basis" to open an investigation.

They will file their request Thursday with judges who have to give the green light for an investigation.

The case marks the first time the court's prosecutors have sought to launch a case in a country that has not signed on to its founding document, the Rome Statute.

Usually, if a country has not ratified the statute, prosecutors need an order from the U.N. Security Council to open an investigation. That has happened in Darfur and Libya.

However, because both Ouattara and his predecessor Gbagbo have recognized the court, prosecutors believe they can launch proceedings in Ivory Coast without a Security Council order.

A U.N. investigation concluded that at least 3,000 people were killed during the conflict and both forces supporting Gbagbo and Ouattara were guilty of abuses.