ICC issues warrant for Ivory Coast's Gbagbo

Reuters , Tuesday 29 Nov 2011

Ousted president Laurent Gbagbo is expected to be transferred imminently

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Ivory Coast president awaits trial in the Hague (Photo: Reuters)

The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for ousted Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo,  and a Gbagbo adviser said he expected him to be transferred to The Hague "in the coming hours."

"They (Ivorian justice authorities) showed it to him this morning," Lucie Bourthumieux, Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo's lawyer said by telephone, questioning the competence of the ICC to judge Gbagbo.

Gbagbo adviser Toussaint Alain, said ICC officials were already at his place of detention in the northern Ivorian town of Korhogo "trying to execute the illegal mandate to transfer President Gbagbo to the ICC in the coming hours". "I condemn ... this victor's justice," he added in an emailed statement.

The ICC declined to comment. "Since there is no public decision issued by the chamber, the ICC cannot comment on media reports," said spokesman Fadi Al-Abdallah.

The court is investigating killings, rapes and other abuses committed in Ivory Coast during a post-election dispute between President Alassane Ouattara and Gbagbo, when the incumbent refused to cede power despite losing an election to Ouattara.

Gbagbo was captured in April by French-backed pro-Ouattara forces after a civil war killed 3,000 people and displaced more than a million. He is under house arrest in north Ivory Coast. The court plans to focus on between two and six people thought most responsible for atrocities, the prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said during a visit to the country last month.

He reiterated that the court would only investigate crimes going back to the election, the first round of which was last October, not further back into the near decade of crisis since a failed 2002 rebellion against Gbagbo that split the country in two. Gbagbo's camp have rejected that time limit as unfair.

Gbagbo refused to step down after losing a UNf-certified election to Ouattara in November. His government then used a force of soldiers, paramilitaries and youth militias to entrench his position and crush dissent, re-igniting a civil war.

Although the Ivory Coast is not one of the member countries covered by the ICC, it has accepted its jurisdiction.

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