I.Coast’s Gbagbo to go on trial in November: ICC

Former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo will go on trial in November for his alleged role in the violence that followed 2010 elections in the west African state, the International Criminal Court said on Thursday.

“The Trial Chamber… scheduled the opening of the trial… for November 10 in order to hear the opening statements of parties and participants,” the court in the Dutch city of The Hague said in a statement.

Gbagbo is to be tried together with Charles Ble Goude, a former minister and close ally of the ousted ex-leader.

A supporter of Ivory Coast's former president Laurent Gbagbo holds a flyer picturing Gbagbo and reading
A supporter of Ivory Coast’s former president Laurent Gbagbo holds a flyer picturing Gbagbo and reading “Solidarity with Laurent Gbagbo” during a demonstration on April 11, 2015 in Abidjan, on the anniversary of Gbagbo’s arrest by the ICC

The prosecution is to start presenting its case early next year, the ICC added.

The court in March combined Gbagbo and Ble Goude’s trials because the cases against them are nearly identical.

Both men face four charges of crimes against humanity for murder, rape, inhumane acts and persecution related to the deadly violence that erupted after the disputed presidential poll.

Long-time leader Gbagbo’s refusal to concede defeat in the election sparked a bloody five-month stand-off, in which some 3,000 people died, according to the United Nations.

Gbagbo is alleged to have fomented a campaign of violence in a vain attempt to stay in power after being defeated in his bid for reelection by long-time rival, Ivory Coast’s current President Alassane Ouattara.

Prosecutors said Goude commanded militias that murdered, raped and burned hundreds of people alive in an orgy of violence involving both sides that ended only after Gbagbo’s arrest in an assault on his Abidjan compound by Ouattara’s French and UN-backed forces.

Ble Goude was arrested in Ghana in January 2013 and extradited to the Ivory Coast, but it wasn’t until March 2014 that he was sent to the Netherlands to face prosecution at the world’s only permanent war crimes court.

Gbagbo, 69, is being held in The Hague since his transfer to the ICC’s detention unit in late November 2011. No charges have been filed against Ouattara’s backers, raising claims of a “victor’s justice”.

A court in Ivory Coast court in mid-March sentenced Laurent Gbagbo’s wife Simone to 20 years in prison for her role in the unrest.