The reasons for the Osu district judge to reject the request for the extradition of Justin Koné Katinan are numerous and have been exposed by Dr. Edmond Kouakou, in his article below. The political nature of the offense Justin Koné Katinan was charged with and the obvious political purpose of the extradition request made by Cote d’Ivoire to the Ghanaian authorities will attract our attention.
If the political offense has not received a universal definition in the international law, it is the State who receives a request for extradition that has the task of assessing whether or not it is in the presence of such an offense. However, doctrine and opinion agree that criminal offense by nature can be considered a political offense, in consideration of the reasons that inspired it and its association with political circumstances. The verdict given on December 4, 1967 by the tribunal of Paris in the case of Inacio da Palma Herminio, is an edifying example of a criminal offense by nature, estimated political by its motivations and purpose.
Herminio Inacio da Palma is a revolutionary Portuguese, well known for his radical actions against the Salazar dictatorship, and made famous in 1956 for hijacking a commercial airliner to distribute leaflets over Lisbon and its suburbs, calling for revolt against the Portuguese potentate.
To finance the activities of his anti-fascist organization, the LUAR, he robbed on May 17, 1967, a branch of the Bank of Portugal in Figueira da Foz. Holding in respect employees and customers present, he was hand over the keys of the safe, under gunpoint, then, he stole there a very large sum of money. Wanted by the Portuguese courts, he finds refuge in France. Subject of an arrest warrant issued against him by a Portuguese judge, he was arrested August 3, 1967 in France. After he admitted the facts which were alleged in the arrest warrant by the judge of his country, he opposed his extradition to his country, claiming he had acted in a political goal. The Indictment of the Court of Appeal of Paris backed his claim and rejected the extradition request. Indeed, although it recognized the seriousness of the particular facts of the crime of robbery with aggravating circumstances alleged against the fugitive, it decided that these facts had been made for political reasons and for political purposes.
The Prosecution considered that "the facts as listed in the application can be analyzed as a crime of robbery with aggravating circumstances, including carrying of weapon ... considering that it is from the additional documents provided by the Portuguese Government ... that the procedures previously followed before the Portuguese courts were referring to events of a political nature, it is established that Inacio da Palma is well known for his activism, it finally appears, according to the documents in the proceedings that the alleged acts imputed to Inacio da Palma... although of a specific gravity relate to the political activity that have been made for political reasons and only for political purposes ... "(Court of Appeal of Paris, 4 December 1967)
This rule that ban from the extradition law political offenses is properly inserted in Article 4 of the Extradition Convention of 1994 in the ECOWAS region to which the Ghanaian justice will confront the request to extradite Justin Koné Katinan to determine the following step of his case.
More subtly, in its second paragraph, that provision prohibits that the extradition proceedings be taken away from its purpose, to serve the purposes of political reprisals. It prohibits, at this point, that a request for extradition presented in a pattern of common law by a government that could reasonably be suspected of wanting to settle its account with an opponent for his political stances be welcomed.
Who can prove that repeated requests for the extradition of Justin Koné Katinan made by the Ivorian authorities are free of hidden political motives? What Mr. Adjoumani, Minister of fisheries resources, senior member of the ruling coalition said and that was reported by “North-South” an Ivorian daily, in its delivery of Friday, October 5, 2012 leave no doubt about the ardent desire of the Ivorian authorities to punish Koné Katinan for his political opinions. He said: "I also believe that Ghanaians have heard about what Katinan Koné represent for Côte d'Ivoire and what he did during the crisis ... Someone who acted in such a way must answer."
We discover here that this is not the extradition of a dirty gangster, a serious bank robber, but an extradition of a person occupying a prominent place in Côte d'Ivoire and having in his position, played a role in the post-election crisis, opened on 3 December 2010, and which continues until now. It is for this fundamental reason that it should be punished according to the beloved Minister Kouassi Adjomani. The facts of robbery against him are ultimately a camouflage political motivation of his opponents.
In fact, they accuse him of having been, January 26, 2011, in the West African States Central Bank (BCEAO) Head Office in Abidjan and under the threat of weapons from those who accompanied him, raided the state assets held by the bank. Outrageous story, as the reality is different.
Indeed, the Economic and Monetary Union of the States of West Africa (UEMOA) partnering with retaliatory financial measures taken during the post-electoral crisis by the international community against President Gbagbo to sway him, had decided to allow only persons appointed by Alassane Ouattara to manage the financial assets of Cote d’Ivoire held by the BCEAO, and moreover, to close all branches of the BCEAO in Cote d’Ivoire. Responding promptly to this measure, President Gbagbo took, January 25, 2011, a decree requisitioning all agencies of the BCEAO. In fulfilment of this decree, the Minister for the Budget, Justin Koné Katinan visited January 26, 2011, in the presence of police, bailiffs required for this purpose, an inventory of the goods of the Head Office inn Abidjan as well as those of national agencies of the central bank in order to continue their activities. A report of this visit was prepared the same day by the police who attested to the fairness and transparency of the operation of taking control of the institution by the government of Pr Aké N'Gbo.
The activities of the Bank have continued, the state accounts managed in accordance with the rules of public finance management in force until April, 11th, 2011, when the government Justin Koné Katinan belonged to was overthrown. Over this period, the salaries of civil servants and state employees were paid on time. This is the total payroll for the period from December 2010 to March 2011, the Ivorian authorities consider to be the amount of damage caused by Justin Koné Katinan to the state of Côte d'Ivoire. Is there in such facts as related, put together, some elements of theft? That is the question which must, after all, respond the Ghanaian judge. While it is recognized that respecting the principle of sovereignty of States and their judicial system, it is not for him to question the qualification of Ivorian judges in this case, he is not required, under the same principle, to endorse it without analyzing the facts which it derives from.
Indeed, to give legal existence to his decision, the Ghanaian judge must necessarily explain the qualification, under Ghanaian law, of the facts which the Ivorian judicial authorities have to expose him in their request for extradition and that they qualified as theft according to their national law. If for the Ivorian judicial system, commit a theft, a Budget Minister (whether we like it or not the government had the effectiveness of power) that performs a requisition in the circumstances listed above, it is not obvious that this is the case for the Ghanaian justice. He will, certainly, ask the question whether, in the presence of the police that have the functions of preserving law and order and the bailiffs, one can remove about 350 billion Franc CFA from BCEAO funds without attracting their attention. It is for all these reasons that it is necessary to be convinced, that, far from the passions that disturb the good sense of the political actors in Côte d'Ivoire, the Osu district judge, will wisely and with serenity, disentangle the true from the false to quickly realize that the heirs of Houphouët-Boigny want to insidiously embark him on a political struggle.
He will refuse to hold in the facts of the procedure, the qualification of robbery, as mentioned in the file RI 09/12 of the Court of Abidjan, Plateau. No doubt he refuses to grant extradition for non satisfaction of the principle of dual criminality as provided by Article 3 of the ECOWAS Convention on Extradition. It provides that "give rise to extradition offenses punishable under the laws of the requesting state (Côte d'Ivoire) and the requested state (Ghana) ..." If by any chance, in the facts so related, the Ghanaian judge finds gathered components of theft, it would, however, be difficult for him to detach political circumstances (post-electoral crisis) that surround the case or deny the political motivation of the author and the eminently political and social situation in which he has taken the decision.
And the Ivorian authorities, fond of "Made in France" certainly would not find any fault, if the Ghanaian judge follows the example above where his French counterpart, refused to accede to their request, on the grounds that the facts they have charged Justin Koné Katinan for, well-known political activist, spokesman for Laurent Gbagbo, have, despite their severity, been made for political reasons and only for political purposes. "Wait and see!"
By: James Cénach, Journalist