Oct 1, 2012

Gbagbo Ally Arrested By Interpol

Justin Kone Katinan 

A key ally of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, has been arrested by the International Police Organisation (INTERPOL) Section of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service.

Justin Kone Katinan was arrested in traffic on September 28, 2012, barely three days after he had been granted bail in the sum of GH¢50,000 with two sureties by the Osu District Magistrate’s Court.

It is unclear whether or not his arrest stemmed from recent skirmishes which occurred on the Ivorian side of the Ghana/Cote d’Ivoire border on September 21, 2012.

Police authorities are tight-lipped on the motive for his arrest.

In an interview with graphic.com.gh, Mr Patrick Sogbodjor, counsel for Katinan, confirmed his arrest and expressed misgivings at the behaviour of the security services.

After the collapse of Laurent Gbagbo’s regime, Katinan, a former Budget Minister, fled to Ghana where he has been living as a refugee since April 13, 2011. 

He was first arrested at the KIA on August 24, 2012, following a warrant issued by an Ivorian court on August 16, 2012 requesting him to be extradited to Cote d’Ivoire to face prosecution for alleged economic crimes he committed during the recent post-election violence in that country.

Following his arrest on August 24, 2012, the Osu District Magistrate Court on September 25, 2012 granted bail to Mr Katinan.

The Presiding Magistrate, Mr Aboagye Tandoh, directed Mr Katinan to report to officials of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) every two weeks. 

It further directed that the rights of Mr Katinan “to protection as an asylum seeker under our laws should be intact until otherwise stated”.

Katinan is the second top official in Gbagbo's government to be arrested while living in exile.

The first was Moise Lida Kouassi, a former Defence Minister, who was arrested in Togo on June 6, 2012 and was extradited the same day.

According to Mr Sogbodjor, it was most unfortunate for his client to be picked up without any justification and, especially, at a time “he is in a court of competent jurisdiction awaiting extradition proceedings”.

Mr Sogbodjor said he received a telephone call on Friday, around 5:30 p.m. that a security officer had stopped his client in traffic for questioning.

Counsel said he spoke to the said security officer, who explained that his superiors at the Interpol Unit of the Police CID had requested that Katinan be brought to answer a few questions.

Mr Sogbodjor said the security officer also indicated that he had a warrant to justify why Katinan was needed at the Interpol Unit, but declined to state the content of the said warrant.

“In fact, they created the impression they needed my client for a few minutes, and I actually advised him to adhere to the call. Little did I know it was a ploy to arrest him because when I got to the CID headquarters, he had been put in cells,” Mr Sogbojor said.

“As at this Sunday afternoon, I, my client and his family do not know the reason for his arrest,” counsel said, and wondered why security officials could not adhere to a simple human right issue as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution.

“It is a bother when persons are picked up and are not told why they have been arrested. It is very much scornful when their lawyers have to go through difficulties in their bid to have access to their clients,” Mr Sogbodjor said.

“It is a basic human right for suspects to be told why they are arrested, as well as allowed to have access to their lawyers,” he added.

Daily Graphic |Ghana