THE HAGUE, Jun 13 – The International Criminal Court said Thursday it will try Ivory Coast’s ex-president Laurent Gbagbo for crimes against humanity allegedly committed during a bloody 2010-2011 election standoff.
Gbagbo, 69, the first former head of state brought before the ICC, is accused of masterminding a campaign of violence in the world’s largest cocoa producing country during post-presidential election violence. More than 3,000 people were killed.
The charges include for murder, rape and persecution.
The pre-trial chamber “confirmed by majority four charges of crimes against humanity against Laurent Gbagbo and committed him for trial,” the court said in a statement of the much-anticipated decision.
One of three judges dissented however, saying there was not “a realistic chance” of a conviction.
Gbagbo maintains that he was evicted in favour of his rival, current President Alassane Ouattara, thanks to a plot led by former colonial ruler France.
French and UN forces backed an assault on Gbagbo’s villa in Abidjan after which Ouattara’s forces detained him and handed him over to the ICC.
The charges are for allegedly fomenting the wave of violence as he refused to hand over to election winner Ouattara after 10 years in power. He has denied the charges against him.
The court had to decide if there were “substantial grounds to believe that Gbagbo committed the crimes” and should be charged.
Gbagbo was handed over to the court in November 2011, but a confirmation of charges hearing in February last year requested ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to provide additional evidence against him.
The former president is accused of “having engaged his individual criminal responsibility for committing these crimes, jointly with members of his inner circle and through members of the pro-Gbagbo forces”, the court said.