Laurent Gbagbo hearing postponed

May 4, 2011 12:00 am

, ABIDJAN, May 4 – Former Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo\’s hearing in an investigation of the toppled president and his associates for acts of violence has been delayed until Friday, a prosecutor said.

"Laurent Gbagbo was due to appear tomorrow but his lawyers are not ready. We have decided to postpone it until Friday," Simplice Kouadio Koffi told AFP late Tuesday.

Ivory Coast descended into a four-month political crisis after Gbagbo refused to accept the internationally certified results of a November 28 election that declared his rival Alassane Ouattara the winner.

The crisis culminated in 15 days of violence in which around 3,000 people died, according local authorities.

Gbagbo was arrested on April 11 with his wife and roughly 100 loyalists following a raid on his home in Abidjan by pro-Ouattara forces. He is being detained in the north of the country — an Ouattara stronghold.

International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said Tuesday that he will soon ask for authorisation to launch a formal investigation into crimes against humanity in Ivory Coast.

"If the chamber authorises that we can start the investigation, we can go to Ivory Coast and collect evidence," Moreno-Ocampo told AFP.

Moreno-Ocampo said that without the operation by UN peacekeepers and French troops, Ivory Coast could have seen a genocide like the one that devastated Rwanda.

"It was remarkable how the UN, supported by France, managed to control the situation," he said.

"It is a new way to manage conflict. They avoided a new Rwanda," Moreno-Ocampo said referring to the killing of 800,000 people in the central African nation in the early 1990s.


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