THE HAGUE — The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, plans to launch a formal probe into alleged mass killings in Ivory Coast, a statement said Wednesday.
The statement headed "Widespread or systematic killings in Cote d?Ivoire may trigger ... investigation" said Moreno-Ocampo's office was particularly concerned about reported massacres in the west of the wartorn country.
"The office continues to collect information on alleged crimes committed there by different parties to the conflict," it said.
Several hundred people were reportedly massacred in the western town of Duekoue last week, with forces loyal to rivals Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara blaming each other.
The next step will be for the prosecutor to use his independent power to request authorisation from the court to initiate an investigation, the statement added.
It noted that while Ivory Coast did not sign the Rome Statute setting up the ICC both Gbagbo, whose refusal to step down after presidential elections triggered the current wave of fighting, and Ouattara recognised internationally as his successor, had accepted the court's jurisdiction.
However if a state party of the Rome Statute refers Ivory Coast to the ICC prosecutor "he can proceed faster with an investigation and start to prepare a request for an arrest warrant for those most responsible for crimes in Ivory Coast," it said.
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