Former Ivory Coast president faces charges

THE HAGUE — Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo was prepared to go to any lengths — including using lethal force — to cling to power after losing elections in 2010, and should stand trial for his alleged involvement in post-election violence, the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor said Tuesday.
Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo attends a confirmation of charges hearing at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday Feb. 19, 2013. ICC pr....
Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo attends a confirmation of charges hearing at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday Feb. 19, 2013. ICC pr....

THE HAGUE — Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo was prepared to go to any lengths — including using lethal force — to cling to power after losing elections in 2010, and should stand trial for his alleged involvement in post-election violence, the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor said Tuesday.

Fatou Bensouda said the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal must mete out justice to Gbagbo for victims of the violence that plunged his country, once a beacon of democracy in West Africa, into bloody chaos.

“We will show that Mr. Gbagbo and forces under his control are responsible for the death, rapes, serious injuries to, and arbitrary detention of, countless law abiding citizens” considered supporters of his rival Alassane Ouattara, Bensouda said.

She was speaking on the opening day of a hearing to judge whether prosecutors’ evidence is strong enough to merit putting on trial Gbagbo, 67, the first former head of state to appear before the 10-year-old court.

Bensouda said prosecutors will focus on just four incidents to paint a picture of the violence that erupted after Ouattara was declared the election winner and Gbagbo refused to accept his defeat, declaring himself president and allegedly unleashing his forces and supporters to target his rival’s backers.

The four incidents “will show that Mr. Gbagbo is responsible for the killings of at least 166 persons, the rapes of at least 34 women and girls, the infliction of serious bodily injury and suffering on at least 94 persons and for committing the crime of persecution against at least 294 victims,” Bensouda said.

She called them “brutal, revolting acts” that amount to crimes against humanity.

Prosecutors say some 3,000 people died in violence by supporters of both Ouattara and Gbagbo in five months of violence after the election.

The current Ivory Coast government sent Gbagbo to The Hague for prosecution by the International Criminal Court, but his lawyers have urged its judges to rule that they have no authority to put him on trial on charges of murder, rape, persecution and inhuman acts.

Agencies

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