Former president of Ivory Coast Laurent Gbagbo is set to appear before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague, Netherlands, beginning this week as he undergoes prosecution for acts against humanity in his country’s post-election conflict. The trial is not only expected to see the embattled former leader cross-examined but also have a lead witness interrogated on some 85 documents and videos related to the clashes before during and after the Ivorian elections in 2010.
When Gbagbo first appeared before the ICC in December 2011, Face2FaceAfrica had reported:
“Global Human Rights groups, however, are warning of an ‘explosive situation on the ground’ if prosecution only focuses on crimes committed by Gbagbo, and not those committed by current Ivorian President, Ouattara.
During that appearance, the 71 year-old politician firmly denied all charges leveled against him with his insistent claim, “I do not recognize the charges,” repeated throughout the proceeding.
The Ivorian crisis claimed thousands of lives, displaced millions and destabilized the economy of that country. There are accusations and counter-accusations about massacres and human rights violations from supporters of both Gbagbo and Outarra.
Immediately after surrendering, Gbagbo called for an end to fighting so that both sides could seek civilian solutions to the crisis. In a broadcast speech, President Outarra promised that justice would be served for the killings and human rights abuses, and proposed the setting up of a truth and reconciliation commission.
Meanwhile, both the government of Rwanda and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe have recently called for African nations to withdraw from the ICC, arguing that the court was unfairly targeting the continent rather than effecting legal justice. So far, the ICC has tried several leaders from African states including Kenya, Ivory Coast, Central African Republic, Uganda, Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo.