[JURIST] The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] took former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo [BBC profile] into custody [ICC press release] on Wednesday for his upcoming initial appearance before the court. He was surrendered to the ICC by the national authorities of the Ivory Coast [BBC backgrounder] on Tuesday and brought to the Netherlands in response to a warrant of arrest [text, PDF] that was issued by the judges last week. The warrant charged Gbagbo with four counts of crimes, 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]. The prosecution believes that Gbagbo is responsible for the crimes as an indirect co-perpetrator, alleging that the violence by pro-Gbagbo forces was committed through an “organisational policy” under his command. Gbagbo is the first of the several suspects related to the post-election violence who was taken into custody by the court. Gbagbo’s initial appearance is scheduled for December 5.
When the Gbagbo refused to step down from his position as a president after his defeat in the November election by the current president Alassane Ouattara [BBC profile] violence resulted due to the arising fight between the two forces. Gbagbo was forced out and captured [JURIST report] in April. Last month, the ICC’s Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] stated [JURIST report] that the court will focus their investigations specifically on three to six suspects most responsible in the alleged involvement in the post-election violence after he arrived [JURIST report] in the Ivory Coast. The investigation was set in motion after the ICC granted [JURIST report] the prosecution’s request to look into the crimes committed during the post-election period. In the same month, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] released a report [JURIST report] related to the said incident and urged the Ivory Coast government to prosecute both sides of the post-election violence equally. Ivory Coast initiated a Truth and Reconciliation Commission [JURIST report] last month in order to resolve the conflicts arising out of the post-election violence in response to UN’s call for investigation [JURIST report] in June and to HRW’s request [JURIST report] for the same.