Gbagbo’s ICC court appearance set for Monday


Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo will appear before the International Criminal Court next Monday, the first former head of state to be tried by the ICC since its inception in 2002, officials said.

Gbagbo, 66, was flown from Ivory Coast to the Netherlands on Wednesday and transferred to a detention centre in The Hague.

The ICC has charged Gbagbo with crimes against humanity, including murder and rape. About 3,000 people were killed and more than a million displaced in a four-month civil war in Ivory Coast after Gbagbo refused to cede power to Alassane Ouattara in an election he lost last year, Reuters reports.

At his first appearance before the court on Monday the judges would verify his identity and ensure he was properly informed of the charges against him, the ICC said in a statement.

Some officials in Ivory Coast had said privately they feared a reaction on the streets from Gbagbo’s supporters when he was detained, but the streets were quiet in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s leafy, tropical commercial capital on the edge of a lagoon.

Even in his home town of Gagnoa in the middle of the cocoa belt, there has been little public reaction.

As leader of Ivory Coast, Gbagbo was adept at mobilising sometimes violent mobs several thousand strong onto the streets. Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) party in a statement called on supporters to “regroup for imminent action”.
“Gbagbo’s transfer to the Hague gives us all the reason we need to stand up. The day will come,” Charles Ble Goude, exiled leader of Gbagbo’s youth militia was quoted as saying in the pro-Gbagbo daily Notre Voie.

His trial is likely to prove divisive and there is still a chance of protests when he goes into court on Monday. But for the time being Ivorians seem reluctant to take the country back to the violence that plagued it a year ago.

The opposition has warned Gbagbo’s trial could end all hope of reconciliation in the country, and reiterated that it would not participate in legislative elections in December.

Human rights groups have decried the failure of authorities to arrest a single pro-Ouattara fighter, despite evidence they too committed abuses during the conflict.