A former Minister in charge of Budget and Spokesman of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, Justin Kone Katinan has been arrested by the Ghanaian security on Friday 24th August, 2012 and is being kept in custody in Ghana. The Deputy Information Minister, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Abrokwa made this known in a press statement he issued Accra on the day of the arrest.
Justin Kone Katinan who holds a refugee card from the Ghana Refugee Board and is also recognized by the UNHCR came to Ghana during the post-election violence which erupted in their country leading to the arrest of President Gbagbo. Events after the post-election conflict has not been palatable for the smooth governance of the once prosperous nation which is now struggling to rebuild.
The leadership of Alassane Ouattara has experienced myriads of attacks which they claimed came from most of the high ranking ex-officials of Laurent Gbagbo. Exchange of fire between soldiers and unidentified gunmen at army checkpoints in southern Ivory Coast, and the eruption of gun battles in the village of Irobo, about 80 km west of the commercial capital Abidjan when soldiers at a roadblock tried to stop a vehicle carrying a group of armed men have kept Ouattara’s government on edge.
An international warrant has therefore been issued by Ouattara’s government to arrest ex-officials of Gbagbo who they claimed are behind the dastardly attacks. Following the warrant, many of the ex-officials including Laurent Akoun secretary-general of the party of former President Laurent Gbagbo, the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), Alphonse Douati the FPI’s deputy secretary-general, and now in Ghana, the former Budget Minister Justine Kone Katinan is in police grips in Ghana. The former Defence Minister Moise Lida Kouassi, was also in June extradited from Togo.
Following Kone’s arrest, President John Dramani Mahama in accordance with the Ghanaian Constitution has asked the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to study the extradition instruments and advice accordingly. But, Lawyer for Mr. Katinan, Patrick Sogbodjor told news men in Accra that he has planned to seek legal redress to compel the Ghanaian government to release his client.
“We want the Ghanaian authorities to simply: one, respect our client’s own liberty; two, respect the fact that he is a registered refugee here, who has committed no crime; and three, his immediate and unconditional release to restore himself to his personal liberties and comfort.”
At the time of filling this report, Newstime Africa has learnt that Justine Kano’s lawyers have secured habeas corpus to have their client be arraigned in court in Ghana rather than extradition.
Senior Research Fellow of the Legon Center for International Affairs and Diplomacy of the University of Ghana, Dr. Vladimir Antwi-Danso said Mr. Katinan has every right to pursue the case in court as intended. He is however downplayed assertions that the development could hold negative implications for Ghana especially given the several Ivorian refuges in the country.
Meanwhile, the Ivorian government has accused a network of supporters of former president Laurent Gbagbo, both within Ivory Coast and abroad and thus its decision to issue arrest warrants for such suspects from Togo, Benin and Ghana.
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