Wanted youth leader sent home to Ivory Coast

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 18, 2013 4:27 PM

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - A fugitive youth leader and close ally of Ivory Coast's ex-president Laurent Gbagbo was sent home from Ghana on Friday and taken into police custody, the Ivorian government said in a statement.

Charles Ble Goude had been sought on one of more than two dozen international warrants issued by the Ivorian government following a brief post-election civil war in 2011.

Arrested in the Ghanaian capital Accra on Thursday, he is the first Gbagbo ally to be handed over by Ghana, where many of the former government's top officials currently live in exile.

"In a joint police operation between Ghana and Ivory Coast, Charles Ble Goude was apprehended," the government said in a statement read out on state television.

"He is currently being held in Ivory Coast by Ivorian police authorities in the framework of judicial proceedings already launched against him in Ivory Coast," it continued.

As head of the Young Patriots street militia in the West African state, Charles Ble Goude was a powerful member of the old regime under Gbagbo, who is awaiting trial in The Hague for crimes against humanity.

He rose to become minister of youth before fleeing at the end of a civil war sparked by Gbagbo's refusal to accept a 2010 election defeat to Alassane Ouattara.

Ble Goude is wanted by Ivorian authorities for alleged kidnappings, illegal detentions, torture, incitement of hatred and economic crimes while a member of Gbagbo's inner circle.

(Reporting By Joe Bavier; Editing by Rosalind Russell)