Ivorian authorities arrested 57 soldiers from former president Laurent Gbagbo’s regime and charged them with crimes ranging from murder and kidnapping to attacking state security and buying illegal arms, the military prosecutor said.
President Alassane Ouattara’s government is closing the net around members of the former regime, who are suspected of mounting a campaign of violence against civilians seen as pro-Ouattara during and after a disputed November election.
The former head of Gbagbo’s party, Pascal Affi N’Guessan, and 11 others were charged with violating state security on Wednesday, for backing his refusal to concede the poll, which tipped the country back into civil war, Reuters reports.
At least two dozen members of the former regime, including some ministers, have also been arrested or charged.
“Fifty-seven soldiers have been arrested and will be charged with attacking state security, buying arms in violation of the embargo, kidnapping and murder,” military prosecutor Ange Kessy Kouame told Reuters by telephone.
After rejecting U.N. certified results showing he had lost the election, Gbagbo unleashed security forces and allied militias on parts of the population suspected of supporting Ouattara. Hundreds were killed, raped or tortured. Hundreds of others disappeared without trace.
That triggered an insurgency culminating in civil war, until Gbagbo was finally ousted in April. All in all, around 3,000 people were killed and a million displaced.
Critics complain that not one of Ouattara’s men has been detained, despite evidence that they too have committed abuses.
The U.N. mission accused Ouattara’s forces Thursday of carrying out 26 extrajudicial killings in the past month.