Former Ivory Coast Leader Faces ICC Judges

Posted December 5th, 2011 at 3:35 am (UTC-5)
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Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo will appear before the International Criminal Court Monday to face four charges of crimes against humanity stemming from his role in the deadly aftermath of last year's elections.

Mr. Gbagbo, the first former head of state to be tried by the global court since its inception in 2002, will be read the alleged crimes and his rights under the court's founding document, the Rome Statute.

The ICC calls Mr. Gbagbo an indirect perpetrator of murder, rape and other crimes committed during post-election violence. About 3,000 people were killed and more than a million displaced in Ivory Coast's four-month civil war after the former leader refused to cede power to Alassane Ouattara in the election he lost last year.

As president, Mr. Gbagbo was able to mobilize sometimes violent mobs several thousand strong. The court says there are “reasonable grounds” to believe pro-Gbagbo forces attacked civilians thought to have supported Mr. Ouattara.

At the next hearing, not expected for several months, prosecutors must convince the court's judges they have enough evidence to bring Mr. Gbagbo to trial.

The former president was arrested in April and sent to the Hague last week.

Chief ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo says investigations into the Ivory Coast violence continue and Mr. Gbagbo is only the first to be brought before the court.

Moreno-Ocampo has said there is evidence that both Ouattara and Gbagbo supporters committed war crimes. Mr. Ouattara, now in power, has created a reconciliation panel aimed at unifying Ivory Coast. He has vowed to hold accountable anyone who committed crimes during the unrest.