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ICC wants more evidence before charging I.Coast's Gbagbo

05 june 2013, 11:23
0
The International Criminal Court said Monday it wanted more evidence before deciding whether to try Ivorian ex-president Laurent Gbagbo for crimes against humanity for his role in a bloody election standoff two years ago, AFP reports.

"The pre-trial chamber adjourned the hearing on the confirmation of charges and requested the prosecutor to consider providing further evidence or conducting a further investigation" into the charges presented against Gbagbo, the court in The Hague said in a statement.

Judges at the ICC, the world's first permanent court to try crimes such as genocide and crimes against humanity, in February held an eight-day hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to take Gbagbo, 68, to trial.

The judges noted that most of 45 incidents catalogued by the prosecution "are proven solely with anonymous hearsay from NGO reports, UN reports and press articles".

They complained that the prosecutor expected them to "draw numerous inferences from actions or conduct of Mr Gbagbo, his inner circle and the 'pro-Gbagbo forces'."

"The chamber does not have enough information to determine whether these inferences are sufficiently supported by the evidence" to take Gbagbo to trial, the judges said, ordering prosecutors to file a new charge sheet and new evidence by November 15.

Gbagbo is accused of fomenting a wave of violence that swept the west African nation after he refused to concede defeat in November 2010 polls.

Five months of fighting followed, ravaging the world's top cocoa producer and claiming some 3,000 lives, according to the United Nations, many of them perceived supporters of election winner and current Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara.

Gbagbo was captured in mid-April 2011 when Ouattara's forces, with French and UN backing, overran his heavily fortified compound in the southern Ivorian economic capital Abidjan.

He was transferred into the custody of the ICC -- which had issued an arrest warrant against him -- some seven months later and has been held in the ICC's detention unit in The Hague ever since.

At the confirmation of charges hearing which ended on February 28, prosecutors said Gbagbo spearheaded a plan to "stay in power by all means... through carefully planned, sustained and deadly attacks" against Ouattara supporters.

They said that between November 28, 2010, and May 8, 2011, Gbagbo's forces killed between 706 and 1,059 people and raped more than 35 women.

The evidence relates to four main incidents: the brutal crushing of an opposition march on Ivorian state television in Abidjan in December 2010; the putting down of a women's march in Abobo, Abidjan; an attack on a market in the same neighbourhood; and reprisals carried out by Gbagbo supporters in Yopougon, also in Abidjan, between April and May 2011.

Gbagbo -- who has accused former colonial power France of being behind a political plot to oust him -- has denied the charges.

His supporters have accused Ouattara's camp of practising "victor's justice" as many of the former president's backers are now behind bars, while none of those close to the Ouattara regime have been arrested despite alleged human rights abuses.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant in November against Gbagbo's wife Simone, who is wanted on four counts of crimes against humanity. She is currently in jail in the Ivory Coast, which is also prosecuting her.

The post-election violence capped a decade of tension in the Ivory Coast, where a civil war in the early 2000s divided the country into a rebel-controlled north and the south controlled by pro-Gbagbo forces.

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