Africa

Ivory Coast conflict: Laurent Gbagbo's son charged

Laurent Gbagbo (l), his wife Simone (c) and son (r) when they were arrested in April
Image caption Michel Gbagbo (r) was arrested along with his father (l) in April

The son of Ivory Coast's former President Laurent Gbagbo is among 12 people who have been charged over post-election violence which killed an estimated 3,000 people.

Michel Gbagbo, who has dual French and Ivorian nationality, was charged along with other close allies of his father.

They include the former prime minister and head of Mr Gbagbo's Ivorian Popular Front (PFI), Pascal Affi N'Guessan.

The group was among dozens put under house arrest with Mr Gbagbo in April.

The BBC's John James in Abidjan says all the key figures arrested with Mr Gbagbo have now been charged, except for the former president and his wife Simone.

They are being held in separate towns in the north - a stronghold of President Alassane Ouattara - and could be investigated by the International Criminal Court, our reporter says.

The 12 are charged with taking part in an armed insurrection and attempting to undermine the state in the world's largest cocoa producer.

Human rights groups strongly condemned their four-month detention, calling for them to be charged or released.

Mr Ouattara has always insisted that those on both sides of the political divide would face justice if they committed crimes during the five-month dispute.

So far, none of his supporters have been arrested or charged, even though human rights groups have accused some of them of killing people suspected of backing Mr Gbagbo.

'Bizarre'

Mr Gbagbo's lawyer, Herve Gouamane, condemned the charges.

Image caption Pro-Ouattara forces have also been accused of committing atrocities during the conflict

"What we deplore is the bizarre nature of this - the lawyers aren't informed," he told the BBC.

"At the same time they talk about reconciliation they go after those who were close to Gbagbo and they're attacked simply for being linked to Gbagbo."

Twenty-six other allies of Mr Gbagbo have already been charged, while international arrest warrants have been issued for those who have fled overseas.

They include militant youth leader Charles Ble Goude and Kone Malachie, a self-proclaimed prophet who told the former president he was God's appointed ruler of Ivory Coast.

Mr Gbagbo refused to accept defeat in presidential elections in November.

He was ousted from power after forces loyal to Mr Ouattara - the internationally recognised winner of the polls - entered Abidjan and captured him with the backing of UN and French troops.

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