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ICC rejects Gbagbo request for release on health grounds

AFP | File photo

Appeals judges at the International Criminal Court on Tuesday rejected a request for the temporary release of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo on health grounds.

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Gbagbo, 70, is accused of plunging his country into civil war rather than relinquishing his grip on power after losing a presidential run-off vote in 2010.

His trial has been scheduled to start in November.

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

'Campaign of violence'

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 has been held at 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".

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

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

 

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