Court refuses to grant former Ivorian Minister Justine Kone Katinan bail in Ghana

Former Ivorian Minister Justine Kone Katinan

Justine Kone Katinan, a former Ivorian minister in Laurent Gbagbo’s administration who has been arrested by the Ghanaian security and is being held by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) has been refused bail by the Human Rights Court in Ghana. The presiding judge Justice Essel-Mensah ruled that the extradition charges brought against Mr. Kone even though not within his jurisdiction and while not also trying to prejudice the extradition process, are cogent enough for the case to tried at the appropriate court.  “Although counsel for the applicant made brilliant submissions, I cannot pre-empt or prejudice the case. I cannot truncate the extradition process because such issues are not before me,” the presiding judge, Mr Justice Kofi Essel-Mensah, pointed out.

Counsel for Mr. Kone, Mr. Sogbodjor told the court that his client is a registered refugee who has been living by the Refugee’s Act since April 11, 2011and therefore cannot be extradited. Quoting numerous laws and international treaties on refugee status, Mr Sogbodjor maintained that his client was entitled to full protection under the Refugee Act and reminded the court that Ghana had ratified the Geneva Convention on Refugees and it was, therefore, unfortunate his client was not being protected as expected. “Ghana is bound to follow laws to protect refugees from political persecution,” Mr. Sogbodjor argued, and stated that in any case, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire had no agreement on extradition arrangements of their citizens when the need arose.

But Chief State Attorney, Ms. Merley Wood, told the court that Mr. Katinan was arrested with an international warrant dated August 16, 2012 for onward extradition to face 10 counts of robbery in Cote d’lvoire. Responding to Mr. Sogbodjor’s argument that his client’s arrest was illegal, Mrs. Wood argued that Ghana had ratified the laws on extradition of persons within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Mr Katinan was picked by security forces at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) on August 24, 2012 following a request from the Ivorian government for him to be extradited to face prosecution for alleged crimes he committed during the post-election violence in Cote d’Ivoire. He would soon be arraigned before the Osu Magistrate Court in Accra on extradition charges.

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