News24

Ghana declines to free Gbagbo's aide

2012-09-05 14:58

Accra - A Ghana court on Wednesday declined to release the spokesperson for former Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo following his arrest here, and prosecutors pledged to pursue his extradition to his home country.

"The applicant has been arrested on formal charges as presented by the respondent affidavit," Judge Kofi Essel Mensah said in the ruling over the arrest of Justin Kone Katinan.

"Although the lawyer for the applicant has made brilliant arguments against the charges, I'm not supposed to pre-empt the hearing on the extradition. I therefore, terminate the application for his release."

Prosecutor Merley Wood told reporters the case for the extradition process should begin on Thursday.

Defence lawyer Patrick Sogbodjor has argued that Katinan cannot be extradited because he has refugee status. He said after the ruling that "we are still of the conviction that my client is being unlawfully detained".

Katinan was arrested on 24 August under an Ivory Coast warrant for alleged economic crimes as budget minister during the crisis that followed Gbagbo's refusal to cede power to rival Alassane Ouattara in December 2010.

He was among thousands of Gbagbo loyalists who fled to Ghana after the fall of his regime following the post-election conflict in which about  3000 people were killed.