Gbagbo appears at international court for alleged crimes against humanity

Monday, December 5, 2011

Laurent Gbagbo in 2007.
Image: Voice of America.

Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo today appeared before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to hear charges against him. The ICC has charged him with four counts of crimes against humanity regarding events following last year's Ivorian presidential election.

Following the election on November 28, Alassane Ouattara was internationally recognized as the winner, but Gbagbo maintained he had won. Subsequent violence killed about 3,000 people. Gbagbo was arrested in April.

Gbagbo is charged as an "indirect co-perpetrator" in "widespread and systematic" crimes "over an extended time period". He was moved from Ivory Coast to The Hague last week, which his supporters called "political kidnapping".

Human rights groups have also called for investigation of Ouattara's supporters. ICC chief prosecutor Louis Moreno-Ocampo said "there is more to come". UN high commissioner for human rights Navi Pillay noted that "In all of our reports, we made it clear there were violations of human rights on both sides".

Since the ICC was established in 2002, this is the first time an ex-head of state has been brought before it. All the cases now being heard by the ICC are African, although some non-African preliminary investigations are underway. To date, the ICC has never successfully convicted anyone.