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Kouassi arrested in Togo

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Abidjan - The former defence minister of Ivory Coast's disgraced ex-president Laurent Gbagbo was arrested at his home in exile in neighbouring Togo on Wednesday, a family member said.

Moise Lida Kouassi had fled to the Togo capital Lome following a deadly crisis in Ivory Coast in the chaotic and bloody months after Gbagbo refused to acknowledge his defeat in the November 2010 presidential polls.

The ensuing chaos led to about 3 000 deaths and Ivory Coast's new government issued several arrest warrants for members of the old regime, though it was not immediately clear whether Kouassi was the object of such a warrant.

Kouassi “was arrested on Wednesday morning in Lome at around 10am,” the family member said by phone.

Gbagbo was captured on April 11, 2011, and has been in custody in The Hague since November on allegations of crimes against humanity.

Kouassi's arrest came at the same time as Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara was visiting Togo to attend a regional financial summit.

The family member said about 20 police officers arrived at Kouassi's house - without a search warrant -and looked through the ex-minister's belongings for about an hour before leaving with a computer and several mobile phones.

He was then turned over to security agents for questioning, the relative said.

Kouassi was defence minister in September 2002 during a failed coup attempt by anti-Gbagbo rebels.

Since Ouattara became president in April 2011, Ivorian authorities have filed several international warrants against former regime members living in countries in the region, especially Togo and Ghana. - Sapa-AFP


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