Ivory Coast Ex-President’s Spokesman Arrested

Laurent Gbagbo's spokesman Justin Kone Katinan in Abidjan in 2010.

Laurent Gbagbo’s spokesman Justin Kone Katinan in Abidjan in 2010.

AFP – The spokesman for former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo has been arrested in Ghana where he fled after the collapse of Gbagbo’s regime, his family and a government source said Saturday.

Justin Kone Katinan was under an arrest warrant for alleged economic crimes as budget minister during the three months of crisis and conflict that followed Gbagbo’s refusal to cede power to his rival Alassane Ouattara in December 2010.

“He was arrested yesterday in Accra by Ghanaian police when he arrived from Johannesburg,” a relative told AFP in Abidjan by telephone from Ghana’s capital.

“This time it’s right,” said a source in Ouattara’s government, referring to an earlier report of Katinan’s arrest that turned out to be unfounded.

The source said that Ivorian officials had been sent to Accra and “he should be back in Abidjan within the day.”

Gbagbo appointed Katinan his spokesman following his own arrest in April last year and subsequent extradition to stand trial at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

Katinan is the second of Gbagbo’s henchmen to be arrested under an international warrant issued by the Ivorian government, after former defence minister Moise Lida Kouassi, who was picked up in Togo on June 6 and extradited the same day.

Thousands of Gbagbo loyalists fled to Ghana after the fall of his regime following the post-election conflict in which some 3,000 people were killed.

Tension is still high in Ivory Coast in the wake of attacks on the army that the Ouattara government has blamed on Gbagbo supporters.

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