ICC Charges Former Ivory Coast Leader Gbagbo

Posted November 30th, 2011 at 4:45 am (UTC-5)
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The International Criminal Court has charged former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo with four counts of crimes against humanity related to violence that followed last year's presidential elections.

The Hague-based court said Wednesday Mr. Gbagbo is accused of bearing responsibility as an indirect co-perpetrator for murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, as well as persecution and other inhuman acts.

It says there are “reasonable grounds” to believe pro-Gbagbo forces attacked civilians in the capital, Abidjan, and in western Ivory Coast, targeting people thought to have supported Mr. Gbagbo's opponent.

The violence started after Mr. Gbagbo refused to give up power after losing the election to current President Alassane Ouattara.

The ICC's chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, said in a statement that investigations continue and Mr. Gbagbo is only the first to be brought before the court. The prosecutor also warned leaders that violence is “no longer an option” for retaining or gaining power.

Mr. Gbagbo arrived in the Netherlands earlier Wednesday, a day after the ICC issued a warrant for his arrest.

He had been under house arrest in a remote village in the north of Ivory Coast after being ousted by international forces in April.

The international court's top prosecutor launched a probe in October to determine Mr. Gbagbo's possible role in war crimes.

At least 3,000 people were killed during the power struggle that ended with Mr. Gbagbo's arrest and the swearing in of Mr. Ouattara as president.

ICC chief prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo has said there is evidence that both Ouattara and Gbagbo supporters committed war crimes.

Mr. Ouattara has created a reconciliation panel aimed at unifying Ivory Coast. He has also vowed to hold accountable anyone who committed crimes during the unrest.