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Last Updated: Friday, 18 January 2008, 11:22 GMT
Ivory Coast charges over 'coup'
By John James
BBC News Abdijan

Prosecutor Raymond Tchimou
Charges were announced against ten coup plotters
Ten people have been indicted by a judge in Ivory Coast for being part of an alleged coup plot.

Their identities have not been revealed but the group includes nationals of Mali, The Gambia, Ivory Coast and two Frenchmen.

It is alleged they are connected with an ex-ally of the New Forces former rebels who control the north of the country and are now in the government.

The UN has questioned the circumstances of their arrest in December.

The 10 accused were jailed after being told they face charges for assault, plotting against the state, being part of an armed group, disturbing public order and failing to denounce actions likely to undermine national defence.

On the night of 27 December the New Forces soldiers say they intercepted an armed patrol and killed the patrol's leader.

He was apparently an associate of former New Forces warlord Ibrahim Coulibaly - known locally as IB.

Plot

The New Forces account of what happened that night appeared to be disputed a few days later by the United Nations.

It issued a communique calling for an inquiry into the events and condemning human rights abuses, illegal arrests and summary executions.

Ivory Coast map
Sergeant Coulibaly himself had been living in exile in Benin after falling out with the current New Forces leadership.

The day after the alleged attack the government of Benin said he was not welcome in the country any more, saying he had been using Benin as a base to disrupt the Ivorian peace process.

Sergeant Coulibaly says he is innocent and that it is a plot to prevent him standing as a candidate in presidential elections. Over the last few days Ivorian newspapers have been analysing the contents of several videos posted on the internet, which apparently show Sergeant Coulibaly predicting the imminent downfall of President Laurent Gbagbo and planning the coup.

It appears these 10 alleged plotters are being prosecuted for links to this apparent coup attempt, planned simultaneously for Bouake and Abidjan.

Speaking on Thursday after announcing the indictments, national prosecutor Raymond Tchimou said Ivorians had to denounce all those seeking to overthrow the government with the aim of enriching themselves.

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