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ICC postpones hearing for Ivory Coast ex-president due to health issues

The Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Thursday postponed [decision, PDF] the confirmation of charges hearing in the case [case materials] against former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] until the issue of his fitness to stand trial is resolved. Three medical evaluations of Gbagbo fitness were submitted on July 19, around three weeks after the Chamber appointed three medical experts following a defense request. Judge Silvia Fernandez de Gunnendi for the Chamber held that both sides should be granted to review the documents. She also set the date due for filing observations of the expert reports. The prosecution is required to submit its observation by August 13 while the date for the defense is August 21. The confirmation of charges hearing was initially expected to take place on August 13.

It is not the first time the confirmation of charges hearing was postponed. In mid-June the ICC had announced [JURIST report] that it would postpone the date of the hearing after his defense team requested more time [JURIST report]. They argued that if the hearing in their client's case took place as planned, Gbagbo would not receive a fair trial because of his limited financial resources compared to the resources of the prosecution. Gbagbo's hearing date was set [JURIST report] in December during his pre-trial hearing [ICC press release] in the Pre-Trial Chamber III of the ICC. 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. A month earlier, he was taken into custody [JURIST report] by the ICC after national authorities of the Ivory Coast surrendered him to the international court.

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