Sunday, September 30, 2012

'Expedite extradition of Gbagbo ally'

Friday, September 14, 2012 (Page 3 Lead) THE Osu District Magistrate Court on September 13, 2012 directed the state to expedite extradition processes for Justin Kone Katinan, a key ally of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo. The presiding Magistrate, Mr Aboagye Tandoh, declined to grant bail to Katinan and accordingly urged the prosecution to ensure that all was done to have the extradition process started on the next adjourned date being September 25, 2012. Refusing a bail application from counsel for Katinan, Mr Patrick Sogbodjor, the court held that there had not been an unreasonable delay to prompt it to grant Katinan bail. Katinan, who has been in the custody of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) since August 24, 2012 is wanted by the Ivorian authorities for allegedly committing financial crimes. The court was of the view that the prosecution had not caused any unreasonable delay to warrant the release of Katinan on bail. Earlier, a Principal State Attorney, Mrs Yvonne Attakorah Obuobisa, told the court the extradition process was not completed because documents pertaining to the process needed to be translated from French into English. She opposed bail for Katinan and urged the court to take into account the fact that the case involved two countries and for that reason there had not been any unreasonable delay. Mr Sogbodjor on his part repeated his application for bail and argued that the prosecution was not taking steps to expedite the extradition process. He told journalists after the court’s sitting that he was disappointed in the state for failing to start the extradition process in court today. According to him the state could have begun the processes some weeks back and further pointed out that he will take other legal steps to guarantee the release of his client who according to him was being held wrongfully. Katinan, who has been living in Ghana as a refugee since April 2011 was arrested at the KIA following an arrest warrant issued by an Ivorian court on August 16, 2012 requesting him to be brought to Cote d’Ivoire to answer charges on 10 counts of robbery. The Human Rights Court on September 5, 2012 refused to order the release Katinan, on grounds that the state had justified why Mr Katinan should be held in lawful custody. Katinan was picked up by security forces following a request from the Ivorian government for him to be extradited to face prosecution for alleged economic crimes he committed during the recent post-election violence in Cote d’Ivoire. His lawyer filed an ex-parte motion praying the court to order the BNI to produce his client in court. The application was granted resulting in the state producing Mr Katinan on August 29, 2012. Katinan has been registered as a refugee and has been living in Ghana under that status since April 13, 2011 till the day of his arrest. He is the second top official in Gbagbo's government to be arrested while living in exile. The first was the extradition of Moise Lida Kouassi, a former Defence Minister, who was picked up in Togo on June 6, 2012 and was extradited the same day. Mr Katinan fled to Ghana after the collapse of Laurent Gbagbo’s regime. He was alleged have committed economic crimes when he was a Budget Minister during three months of crisis and conflict that followed Gbagbo's refusal to cede power to his rival, Mr Alassane Ouattara, in December 2010.

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