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Former Ivory Coast president Gbagbo appears before ICC

Former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo [BBC profile] appeared before the Pre-Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Monday for an initial hearing [ICC press release]. During the hearing the court verified Gbagbo's identity and ensured that he was informed of the four charges against him, including murder, persecution, inhumane acts, and rape and other forms of sexual violence allegedly committed during last year's post-election violence [JURIST news archive] in the Ivory Coast. He was also advised of his rights under the Rome Statute [text, PDF] of the ICC. Another hearing is to be held to confirm whether there is sufficient evidence to establish a reasonable belief that the allegations may in fact be true and that Gbagbo committed these crimes. If the court determines that evidence presented is satisfactory to confirm the charges, then the matter will proceed to trial.

Gbagbo was taken into ICC custody [JURIST report] last week. National authorities arrested Gbagbo the day before, and he was brought to the Netherlands in response to a warrant of arrest [text, PDF] that was issued by the ICC judges the week before. Gbagbo is accused as an indirect co-perpetrator during the last year's post-election violence that arose when he refused to step down from office despite his defeat by the current president Alassane Ouattara [BBC profile]. Gbagbo was captured [JURIST report] in April but only after a six-month conflict that reportedly resulted in the death of at least 3,000 civilians [HRW report, PDF] and rape of more than 150 women. The investigation was set in motion after the ICC granted [JURIST report] the prosecution's request to look into the crimes in October.

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