Trial of Ivory Coast's ex-leader Gbagbo starts at ICC

Ivory Coast's former president Laurent Gbagbo's trial on war crimes starts at the International Criminal Court, as he denies all charges

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Mr Gbagbo faces four counts of crimes against humanity.

The high-profile court trial of former Ivory Coast’s ex-president Laurent Gbagbo started on Thursday, over allegations that he was behind the post-election violence swept the country in 2010 and left 3,000 dead after he rejected the results of an election.

Gbagbo has become the first African ex-president to appear at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

Prosecutors have accused Gbagbo along with former militia leader Charles Ble Goude of causing the deadly violence to stay in power after his electoral defeat by rival Alassane Ouattara.

Gbagbo and Ble Goude denied charges they had implemented an "organisational policy to launch a widespread and systematic attack against civilians perceived to support Alassane Ouattara."

The court registrar said the charges they face include murder, rape, inhuman acts and persecution.

A pro-Gbagbo militiamen mans a post in the empty streets of Abidjan as forces loyal to the internationally recognised Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara approach the capital, on March 31, 2011.

What happened in Ivory Coast in 2010?

According to the official results opposition Alassane Ouattara won the 2010 Ivorian election in the second round with 54.1 percent of the vote against Laurent Gbagbo who won 45.9 percent.

Despite Gbagbo’s decision to stay in power, many international organisations and countries recognised Ouattara as the president of Ivory Coast.

Gbagbo was captured by pro-Ouattara forces backed by French forces which took control of the country and key administrational places in capital Abidjan in the last stage of the crisis.

Since yearly complex political crisis have resulted in deadly violence 3,000 people have been killed and numerous human rights violations reported by international organisations and the UN has decided to deploy its troops in order to help to stabilise the country and protect civilians.

During the complex trial, court prosecutors will analyse approximately 5,300 pieces of evidence including videos and photos, along with 138 witnesses.

Ivory Coast's internationally-recognised President, Alassane Ouattara, meets with African Union commission chairman Jean Ping, not pictured, at the Golf Hotel in Abidjan, Ivory Coast Saturday, March 5, 2011.

Human rights groups also say crimes were carried by both sides and there have been no criminal charges against the side of Ouattara, who has just been elected as president for a second time.

"In village after village in the far west, members of the Republican Forces loyal to Ouattara killed civilians from ethnic groups associated with Gbagbo," Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

"The ICC’s ongoing investigation into crimes by the Ouattara side remains a critical avenue for victims to see justice," said Param-Preet Singh, senior counsel for HRW.

However, Gbagbo’s supporters say France was responsible for ousting him and insist that Ouattara and his side should have been investigated for human right violations and abuses. They gathered  in front of the ICC building to protest the judgement.

One of the rally's organisers, Abel Naki, told Agence France Presse Gbagbo and been "kidnapped" and "deported" to the ICC.

"It reminds us of the years of slavery and colonisation."

TRTWorld and agencies