I.Coast's Gbagbo to go on trial in November: ICC

7th May 2015, Comments 0 comments

Former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo will go on trial in November for his alleged role in the violence that followed 2010 elections in the west African state, the International Criminal Court said on Thursday.

Gbagbo, 69, a former historian turned politician and Ble Goude, often referred to as Gbagbo's "Street General", will go on trial less than a month after the latest presidential polls in the restive country.

"The Trial Chamber... scheduled the opening of the trial... for November 10 in order to hear the opening statements of parties and participants," the ICC in the Dutch city of The Hague said in a statement.

The prosecution is to start presenting its case early next year, court added.

The ICC in March combined Gbagbo and Ble Goude's trials because the cases against them are nearly identical.

Both men face four charges of crimes against humanity for murder, rape, inhumane acts and persecution related to the deadly violence that erupted after the disputed presidential poll.

Long-time leader Gbagbo's refusal to concede defeat in the election sparked a bloody five-month standoff, in which some 3,000 people died, according to the United Nations.

Gbagbo is alleged to have fomented a campaign of violence in a vain attempt to stay in power after being defeated in his bid for re-election by long-time rival, Ivory Coast's current President Alassane Ouattara.

Prosecutors said Goude commanded militias that murdered, raped and burned hundreds of people alive in an orgy of violence involving both sides that ended only after Gbagbo's arrest in an assault on his Abidjan compound by Ouattara's French and UN-backed forces.

Ble Goude was arrested in Ghana in January 2013 and extradited to the Ivory Coast, but it was not until March 2014 that he was sent to the Netherlands to face prosecution at the world's only permanent war crimes court.

- Victor's justice? -

Gbagbo has been held in The Hague since his transfer to the ICC's detention unit in late November 2011. No charges have been filed against Ouattara's backers, raising claims of a "victor's justice".

A court in Ivory Coast in mid-March sentenced Laurent Gbagbo's wife Simone to 20 years in prison for her role in the unrest.

Simone Gbagbo has appealed the sentence.

Fresh presidential polls are planned in the Ivory Coast around October 25 with Ouattara, a former International Monetary Fund deputy managing director, nominated to seek re-election as president.

Ouattara's nomination was announced last month in the southern commercial capital of Abidjan by former Ivorian head of state Henri Konan Bedie.

Faced with a divided opposition and Gbagbo and Ble Goude's trial to start shortly after the elections, Ouattara is the favourite in the presidential race.

The pro-Gbagbo Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) said last month they are yet to put forward a candidate to face Ouattara.

The FPI however remains split between hardliners demanding Gbagbo's release before any elections can be held and those in the party who back party head Pascal Affi N'Guessan for the presidency.

© 2015 AFP

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