Gbagbo trial will 'uncover' the truth: ICC prosecutor

27th January 2016, Comments 0 comments

War crimes prosecutors vowed Wednesday to reveal the truth about the role of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo in post-election violence five years ago, warning people not to be taken in by "falsehoods" spreading on social media.

"The purpose of the trial is to uncover the truth through a purely legal process," said Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court.

"Our case is based on the law... and on the strength of the evidence our investigators have gathered," she insisted, adding the ICC was proceeding with the "case in all fairness and all impartiality."

Gbagbo and his close ally Charles Ble Goude go on trial on Thursday on four charges of crimes against humanity including murder, rape, and persecution arising out of the political upheavals in the west African nation in 2010-2011.

But the case has been marked by accusations from Gbagbo's supporters that the prosecution is basing its case on a narrative supplied by his bitter rival Alassane Ouattara, who is now president.

The highly-anticipated hearing is the culmination of a crisis which erupted when Gbagbo refused to stand down after losing elections in November 2010 to Ouattara.

The political standoff triggered an international crisis, with the European Union, the United States and former colonial power France all recognising Ouattara as the winner.

Weeks of tensions dragged into a bloody five-month stalemate with Gbagbo holed up in the fortress-like presidential palace, until he was eventually arrested by Ouattara's troops aided by UN and French forces.

Bensouda cautioned reporters at a press conference at the ICC's premises in The Hague that "unfortunately some speculations are already circulating" in the Ivory Coast and social media.

She insisted that "no prosecution witnesses have been withdrawing" from the trial and said she was ready to proceed with the case.

© 2016 AFP

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