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Former Youth Minister Charles Ble Goude, who was acquitted of crimes at the International Criminal Court, returned home Saturday to Ivory Coast after more than a decade of exile.

He arrived in Abidjan on a commercial flight around 1 p.m. and made no comment at the airport, which was heavily guarded by police. However, he later greeted supporters in Yopougon, where he promised them there would be a meeting in the coming weeks.

“It is time to tell the truth,” Ble Goude said. “Eleven years of lies, and only an hour-long press conference to restore the truth. Ivory Coast needs those who tell the truth. It does not need liars.”

Ble Goude was the leader of the Young Patriots, a pro-government youth organization seen by many as a militia, and youth minister under Former President Laurent Gbagbo.

More than 3,000 people were killed in violence that erupted after Gbagbo refused to accept defeat by his rival in the 2010 election, current Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara.

Ble Goude was ultimately cleared in 2019 at the International Criminal Court, along with Gbagbo, of responsibility for crimes including murder, rape and persecution following the disputed election.


Mexico’s Supreme Court struck down part of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s ‘jail, no bail’ policy Thursday.

The court voted against mandatory pre-trial detention for people accused of fraud, smuggling or tax evasion. Because trials often take years in Mexico, the justices argued that being held in prison during trial was equivalent to being subjected to punishment before being convicted.

Instead, prosecutors would have to convince judges there are valid reasons not to release people on their own recognizance — for example, by arguing that they may pose a flight risk. The justices may vote next week on whether the possibility of pre-trial release may be justified for other crimes.

In 2019, López Obrador imposed mandatory pre-trial detention for a long list of crimes, and he views it as part of his crack-down on white collar criminals, like those accused of tax fraud. Mexico does not have cash bail, but before López Obrador changed the rules, judges could release suspects and require them to wear monitors, sign in at court or agree not to travel.

The president has long railed about corrupt judges and court rulings he doesn’t like, and Thursday’s supreme court vote was likely to spark more vocal attacks by the president. Even before the ruling, López Obrador criticized the court for the widely expected Thursday vote.



Two judges on India’s top court on Thursday differed over a ban on the wearing of the hijab, a headscarf used by Muslim women, in educational institutions and referred the sensitive issue to a larger bench of three or more judges to settle.

Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia issued a split ruling after hearing petitions filed by a group of Muslims against a high court’s judgment in Karnataka state. The state court had refused to stay a government order issued in February that banned people from wearing clothes that disturb equality, integrity and public order in schools and colleges.

Karnataka State Education Minister B.C. Nagesh said Thursday the ban on wearing the hijab in educational institutions in the state would continue until the top court settled the issue of whether the Muslim headscarf is an essential religious practice in Islam.

The dispute began early this year when a government-run school in Karnataka’s Udupi district barred students wearing hijabs from entering classrooms, triggering protests by Muslims who said they were being deprived of their fundamental rights to education and religion.

Hindu students launched counter-protests by wearing saffron shawls, a color closely associated with that religion and favored by Hindu nationalists.

More schools in the state followed with similar bans and the state’s high court disallowed students from wearing hijab and any other religious clothing. The Muslim groups petitioned the Supreme Court against the ban.

Supreme Court Justice Gupta on Thursday said there was a divergent opinion and that the matter should be referred to a larger bench of more than two judges. He dismissed the appeal by Muslim groups against the government order.


The leader of the Scottish government said Sunday that she will push on with her campaign to take Scotland out of the United Kingdom, even if she loses a Supreme Court case seeking authorization to call a new independence referendum.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants to hold a referendum in October 2023, but the Conservative U.K. government in London has said no. Britain’s top court is due to hear arguments starting Tuesday on whether Scotland’s semi-autonomous administration can organize an independence vote without the London government’s consent.

Sturgeon, who leads the Scottish National Party, said that if her Edinburgh-based government loses the court case, she will make the next U.K. national election a de facto plebiscite on ending Scotland’s three-century-old union with England.

She did not give details of how that would work. A vote held without the approval of the U.K. government would not be legally binding.

Sturgeon said that if the courts blocked a referendum, “we put our case to people in an election or we give up on Scottish democracy.”

“It should be a last resort,” she said. “I don’t want to be in that position. I want to have a lawful referendum.”

Scotland and England have been politically united since 1707. Scotland has had its own parliament and government since 1999 and makes its own policies on public health, education and other matters. The U.K.-wide government in London controls matters such as defense and fiscal policy.


Guinea opened a landmark trial Wednesday 13 years after a stadium massacre by the military left at least 157 protesters dead and dozens of women raped, with the country’s former coup leader Moussa “Dadis” Camara among those charged.

The court proceeding began a day after Camara and five more defendants were detained in the capital, Conakry, pending the outcome of the trial. A dozen men in total have been charged with crimes including murder and rape in connection with the 2009 attacks.

“Thirteen years later, let’s do everything possible to ensure that the horror of massacres does not happen again in Guinea,” said Djibril Kouyate, the president of the Guinean National Bar Association, during a speech at the trial’s opening. “Those who died will not speak again, but their bloodshed demands justice.”

Karim Ahmad Saad Khan, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, told those gathered Wednesday that “13 years is a long time” and applauded the victims’ family members for keeping their patience.

“September 28 has become a day of sadness,” he said. “We have the opportunity, you have created the space for September 28 to be a day of promise and hope.”

Demonstrators had gathered at the stadium that day to protest then-coup leader Camara’s plans to run for president when security forces opened fire. The junta said that “uncontrolled” elements of the army carried out the rapes and killings. But a Human Rights Watch investigation found that Camara’s top aides were at the stadium and did nothing to stop the violence.


An alleged senior leader of a predominantly Muslim rebel group that ousted the president of Central African Republic in 2013 pleaded not guilty Monday to seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court.

A court spokesman said the opening of the trial of Mahamat Said marked the end of a long wait for justice for victims in the mineral-rich but impoverished Central African Republic.

The country’s people “have been already waiting a long period of time. It is almost nine years now,” to see a member of the Seleka rebel group stand trial at the global court, spokesman Fadi El Abdallah told The Associated Press.

After a court officer read out charges including torture, unlawful imprisonment and persecution, Said told a three-judge panel: “I have listened to everything and I am pleading not guilty.”

Said, 52, is accused of running a detention center in the capital, Bangui, called the Central Office for the Repression of Banditry, from April to August 2013 where he and dozens of Seleka rebels allegedly held prisoners perceived as supporters of ex-President Francois Bozize in inhumane conditions and subjected them to torture and brutal interrogations including whipping and beating them with truncheons and rifle butts.

The court’s chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, told judges that his team would prove Said’s guilt at a trial that is expected to last months. Prosecutors are expected to call 43 witnesses.

“By the end of this trial, you will be convinced that in relation to all seven counts Mr. Said will be found guilty,” Khan said.

He said that Said was “not a passive spectator” but an active participant in crimes, hunting down civilians and bringing them to the detention center “knowing exactly what he had planned for them, what a nightmare awaited them under his control and custody.”

Defense lawyers are scheduled to make an opening statement after the prosecutors have finished.

Fighting in Bangui in 2013 between the Seleka rebels, who seized power from Bozize, and a mainly Christian militia called the anti-Balaka left thousands dead and displaced hundreds of thousands more.



The international court convened in Cambodia to judge the Khmer Rouge for its brutal 1970s rule ended its work Thursday after spending $337 million and 16 years to convict just three men of crimes after the regime caused the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people.

In its final session, the U.N.-assisted tribunal rejected an appeal by Khieu Samphan, the last surviving leader of the Khmer Rouge government that ruled Cambodia from 1975-79. It reaffirmed the life sentence he received after being convicted in 2018 of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Busloads of ordinary Cambodians turned up to watch the final proceedings of a tribunal that had sought to bring justice, accountability and explanations for the crimes. Many of those attending Thursday’s session lived through the Khmer Rouge terror, including survivors Bou Meng and Chum Mey, who had given evidence at the tribunal over the years.

Khieu Samphan, sitting in a wheelchair and wearing a white windbreaker and a face mask, listened to the proceedings on headphones.

He was the group’s nominal head of state but, in his trial defense, denied having real decision-making powers when the Khmer Rouge carried out a reign of terror to establish a utopian agrarian society, causing Cambodians’ deaths from execution, starvation and inadequate medical care. It was ousted from power in 1979 by an invasion from neighboring communist state Vietnam.

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