Ghana's court holds extradition hearing for Gbagbo's ally   2013-01-30 14:27:56            

ACCRA, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- A court in Ghana held on Tuesday an extradition hearing against Justin Kone Katinan, a former budget minister of Cote d'Ivoire wanted in his home country for looting and murder.

Katinan, who was spokesman of Cote d'Ivoire's ex-President Laurent Gbagbo, is facing possible extradition to his home country, which accused him of organizing raids on 10 banks during the last election crisis and stealing a total of around 300 billion CFA francs (592.91 million U.S. dollars).

He was also charged with two killings allegedly committed at the height of the election crisis, which erupted after Gbagbo refused to accept the victory of his rival Alassane Ouattara in a poll in late 2010.

Chief State Attorney Matthew Amponsah declared Katinan a fugitive and did not accept his plea of not guilty, the state-run Ghana News Agency (GNA) reported.

The attorney said witnesses have testified to Katinan's involvement in the looting of state funds and Katinan would face extradition as requested by Cote d'Ivoire's authorities.

Katinan is one of the thousands of Gbagbo loyalists that have escaped to Ghana during their country's civil conflict.

While Gbagbo is currently awaiting trial in The Hague on accusation of crimes against humanity, several of his leading supporters, including Katinan, have established a base in Ghana from which they are working to destabilize the new government, according to a report by a UN expert panel.

Ghana has repeatedly said it considers the exiles as refugees and will not extradite all Gbagbo supporters.

A wave of attacks on Cote d'Ivoire's security installations and infrastructure since last year, which Cote d'Ivoire blamed on Gbagbo's supporters in Ghana, further strained relations between the two neighbors.

But Ghana has made some overture recently by arresting Charles Ble Goude, a powerful member of the old regime under Gbagbo, and beginning Katinan's extradition process.

Analysts have said such moves showed Ghana's progress in expelling Cote d'Ivoire's fugitives.

Editor: Fang Yang
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