Awaiting Laurent Gbagbo upon his arrival in The Hague

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Upon his expected arrival in the Netherlands on Wednesday, former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo will be taken to the International Criminal Court's detention unit in The Hague, where he will be readied for an initial appearance before the court. This is what he can expect:


Located in The Hague's seaside resort suburb of Schreveningen, the ICC's detention unit forms part of a Dutch prison and currently holds five other ICC prisoners before the court.

It's also the same prison used to detain those wanted by the nearby International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), as well as Charles Taylor, who is being tried before the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSCL).

The court's registrar Silvana Arbia, charged with the detention unit's administration said the unit "strived to ensure the mental, physical and spiritual well-being of detainees," the court said on its website.

Prisoners all have individual cells equipped with computers allowing them to "work on their cases."

They may also undertake online courses, use an outdoor exercise area and participate in sports and recreation.

"Detainees are allowed to cook," while special attention is being paid to family visits.


The ICC's rules on procedure say all detainees "shall appear before the pre-trial chamber, in the presence of the prosecutor, promptly upon arrival at the court."

The hearing is to in particular verify a suspect's identity and to inform the arrested person of the crimes he or she are being accused of and they are informed of their rights under the ICC's founding treaty, the Rome Statute.

The last prisoner to arrive at the detention unit was Rwandan Hutu rebel leader Callixte Mbarushimana, who appeared before judges three days after his arrival in the Hague on January 25 this year.

The pre-trial chamber will then set a date on which it will hold a confirmation of charges hearing, which preceeds a possible trial.


The Rome Statute says that within a reasonable amount of time after a person's surrender, the pre-trial chamber shall hold a hearing to "confirm the charges on which the prosecutor intends to seek trial."

At that hearing, the prosecutor must convince judges substantial grounds exist "to believe that the person committed the crime charged" and that enough evidence had been gathered to hold a trial.

The ICC's judges may at the end of the hearing either confirm the charges and send the accused to a trial chamber, or say more evidence was needed from the prosecutor, modify the charges, or drop the charges altogether.

Once charges have been confirmed, the court's presidency puts together a trial chamber to lead the prepapartion for and to conduct a trial.

© 2011 AFP

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