The International Criminal Court (ICC) has initiated trial against the former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo. This will be the first trial to be initiated by the ICC, since its initiation, against a former head of the state. Last month the Judges of the ICC gave the go-ahead to prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo to conduct investigations into the post-election war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Laurent Gbagbo during the four-month conflict at the Ivory Coast which was set off by Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to surrender power to Alassane Ouattara in the elections last year. The capture of Laurent Gbagbo in April 2011 by the pro-Ouattara forces had marked the end of the long drawn-out civil war that killed more than 3000 people and displaced more than a million. Gbagbo has been taken to The Hague from Kohorgo in the northern Ivory Coast where he was under house arrest since his capture.
The progress in Laurent Gbagbo’s case is a victory for ICC Chief Prosecutor Ocampo, who has up till now struggled to get hold of some of his biggest targets. Gbagbo’s lawyer Lucie Bourthoumieux has condemned the arrest of Gbagbo as a politically motivated one and that there are no official charges against him. She also stated that the ICC does not have any right to issue warrant against the former head as the state has not ratified the Rome Statute. There are also speculations that the arrest would intensify the tension in the Ivory Coast right before the elections.
The ICC has held Laurent Gbagbo individually responsible for the attacks including the killings and the rapes and this invited condemn from pro-Gbagbo parties’ leaders who have pulled out of the legislative elections to be held in two weeks time as a protest at the transfer of Gbagbo. They said that this would impede all efforts for a national reconciliation.
Many Ivorians may feel aggravated by a trial of Laurent Gbagbo after Ocampo allowed the court of Libya to try Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam despite of a warrant issued against him by the ICC.
Report by Radhalakshmi