Eight Ivorians believed to have been loyal to ousted Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo who have challenged their extradition from Liberia, are to be turned over to the Ivory Coast government, as the Monrovia City Court Wednesday approved their deportation.The Ivorians were accused of crossing into Liberia after committing war crimes during Cote d’Ivoire’s 2010-2011 post-election crisis, accusations they have repeatedly denied during their five-year hearing.
The defendants were arrested in August 2012 by the joint security assigned at Liberia’s border with Cote d’Ivoire, for their alleged involvement in cross-border attacks against the village of Para and the Peken Military Barracks in Toulepleu on the Ivorian side of the border.
The extradition appeal request hearing was denied in absentia on Wednesday. In his ruling, Monrovia City Court Magistrate Kennedy Peabody approved their extradition to La Cote d’Ivoire, where they face charges that include rape, arson, murder and theft of property. If convicted, they could face life imprisonment or execution.
Gbagbo’s refusal to relinquish power to Alassane Ouattara, who defeated him in a general election in November 2010, sparked months of conflict and civil war that left an estimated 3,000 people dead.
The lawyer for the eight Ivorians, Amara Sheriff, had repeatedly argued that the defendants were Ivorian refugees, who for reasons bordering on political repression and suppression fled their country and sought refuge in Liberia.
“Although there is an extradition treaty between Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire, it was not signed by the executive, and has never been ratified by the legislature; and hence it is not an enforceable law in
Liberia,” the defense lawyer argued.