No 'golden exile' for Ivory Coast's Gbagbo
Dakar - Ivory Coast's Laurent Gbagbo should not be granted "golden exile" after his arrest on Monday or shielded from prosecution for the crimes in which he has been implicated, Human Rights Watch said.
Gbagbo was arrested in Abidjan after refusing for months to accept he lost presidential elections in November to internationally recognised president Alassane Ouattara in a dispute that has cost hundreds of lives.
"Laurent Gbagbo has been credibly implicated in crimes against humanity and other atrocities for which he should be held to account," Human Rights Watch African executive director Daniel Bekele said in a statement.
"He should not be granted a golden exile in a country that would shield him from national or international prosecution," he said.
Bekele also said that forces for Ouattara, who arrested Gbagbo with support from UN and French troops, "have an obligation to treat him and others in their custody humanely in accordance with international law".
Ouattara must "ensure that all those responsible for the crimes that have characterised this painful period of Cote d'Ivoire's history face fair justice, regardless of their rank or political allegiance," he said.
Both sides in the five-month dispute have been accused of atrocities, including murder and rape, with rights and other groups citing witness accounts of mass killings in the west of the country last week.
In a further development AP reports that UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy says the surrender of renegade leader Laurent Gbagbo doesn't end the political crisis in Ivory Coast, but it's an important step toward halting the violence.
After briefing the Security Council on Monday about developments in the west African country, Le Roy told reporters that Gbagbo and his wife have requested and received UN protection.
Le Roy says Gbagbo is staying in the same hotel where his rival Alassane Ouattara did and has been assigned the same UN police officers who protected him during the stalemate.
The UN chief emphasizes that Gbagbo's arrest was handled by forces loyal to Ouattara and that UN peacekeepers and French forces were not involved.