W.Africa court declines to call for release of Gbagbo's wife

A West African regional court on Friday declined to call for the release of the wife and son of ex-Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo, who were detained following the former strongman's ouster in 2011.

While the ECOWAS Court of Justice ruled that son Michel Gbagbo's detention was illegal, it said it could not call for his release since he was also being held on another accusation in Ivory Coast that it could not interfere with.

"With regards to Mr Michel Gbagbo, the court declares the violation of his rights and his detention by his house arrest as arbitrary, illegal and constitutes violation of article 6 of the African Charter of Women and Peoples rights," presiding judge Nougbode Medegan said in a ruling.

"... Having been accused and detained before the national court, the court cannot grant his immediate release."

The ruling of the five-member panel was given in French and interpreted for journalists.

On former first lady Simone Gbagbo, the court deferred its ruling until the outcome of her case now before the International Criminal Court.

The Gbagbos filed a suit in the court to seek their release from detention.

Laurent Gbagbo, 67, is facing trial at the International Criminal Court, accused of masterminding a campaign of violence during a bloody 2010-2011 presidential election standoff in which over 3,000 people died.

The ICC has issued an arrest warrant for Simone Gbagbo, accusing her of being his "alter ego" in orchestrating the campaign of election violence.

ECOWAS is the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States. Its rulings are in theory binding on member countries, but it has rarely sought to take action to enforce them.