ICC delays hearing for Ivorian leader

June 12, 2012 at 12:34 PM

THE HAGUE, Netherlands, June 12 (UPI) -- The International Criminal Court announced Tuesday the defense team for former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo was granted more time to prepare.

Gbagbo is awaiting prosecution on crimes against humanity at The Hague, Netherlands. The court, in a statement, said it postponed the opening of the confirmation of charges against the Ivorian leader.

The court said the defense team was given additional resources by the court shortly before the confirmation-of-charges hearing.

"The chamber decided to postpone the opening of the hearing, to give the defense time to apply effectively these additional means for its preparation for the confirmation hearing," the court said in a statement.

Gbagbo was arrested in Abidjan with the help of French peacekeepers in April 2011, ending a long period of political violence that pushed Ivory Coast to the brink of civil war.

The ICC said there are "reasonable grounds" to believe Gbagbo bears criminal responsibility "as an indirect co-perpetrator" on four counts of crimes against humanity, including rape and murder.

"A plan allegedly existed between Mr. Gbagbo and his inner circle and they were allegedly aware that implementing it would lead to the commission of the crimes charged," the court said.

Human rights groups believe forces loyal to Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara likely committed atrocities during the conflict.

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