ICC finds Ivory Coast ex-president fit to stand trial for crimes against humanity

[JURIST] Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website; JURIST backgrounder] on Friday found former Ivory Coast president and alleged war criminal Laurent Gbagbo [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] fit to stand trial [decision, PDF; press release]. In August Pre-Trial Chamber I postponed Gbagbo's confirmation of charges hearing [JURIST report] in order to determine if the former president remains fit for trial. Three medical evaluations of Gbagbo's fitness were submitted on July 19, around three weeks after the Chamber appointed three medical experts following a defense request. The court-appointed panel of experts who examined Gbagbo determined that he was healthy enough to take part in the proceedings:

As indicated above, the Chamber considers that Mr Gbagbo is not physically unfit to take part in the proceedings against him. ... The Chamber ... bases its conclusions on Mr Gbagbo's mental fitness mainly on the written report and testimony of Dr Lamothe, which establish that Mr Gbagbo possesses the capacities to understand the charges against him, as well as the conduct and the possible consequences of proceedings against him, and is capable of giving instructions to counsel as well as of making a statement.
Gbagbo is charged [ICC arrest warrant, PDF] with crimes against humanity on four counts including murder, persecution, inhumane acts and rape and other forms of sexual violence allegedly committed during the 2010 post-election violence in which Gbagbo lost but refused to cede power. Gbagbo's rival President Alassane Ouattara [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] was declared the winner of the 2010 election and is now president.

The violence that followed the 2010 election claimed approximately 3,000 lives. Earlier this week the ICC denied Gbagbo's motion asking the court for allowance to leave the Netherlands while he recovers from alleged maltreatment received while detained by national authorities in the Ivory Coast before being surrendered to the ICC [JURIST reports] in November. The court denied Gbagbo's leave request upon a determination that he posed a flight risk. In August the ICC dismissed a jurisdiction challenge [JURIST report] by Gbagbo, ruling that the court has the authority to hear the case. Also that month ICC The court first postponed Gbagbo's confirmation of charges hearing in June, after his lawyers asked the court more time to prepare [JURIST reports], complaining that they did not have enough resources to build their case in the amount of time given. Gbagbo's original hearing date was set [JURIST report] in December during his pre-trial hearing in ICC Pre-Trial Chamber III.

 

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