ICC case against Gbagbo moves forward

Feb. 12, 2013 at 12:53 PM
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THE HAGUE, Netherlands, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- A confirmation of charges hearing for former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo at the ICC brings victims one step closer to justice, said Human Rights Watch.

The International Criminal Court scheduled the hearing next Tuesday for Ggabgo, who was arrested in Abidjan in 2011.

"The confirmation of charges hearing is held to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds to believe that the person committed each of the crimes charged," the court said.

Human Rights Watch said the hearing is significant as Ggabgo is the first former head of state to stand before the court.

"It also reinforces the message that those who commit atrocity crimes from a position of apparent strength can be held to account, regardless of their official position," the rights group said in a statement.

The court says Gbagbo may bear criminal responsibility for four counts of crimes against humanity for actions during violence that rocked the West African country following contested presidential elections in 2010.

Those elections were meant to unite a country divided by war. Human rights organizations said both parties to the conflict may have committed crimes against humanity.

A defense team for Ggabgo argued the ICC doesn't have jurisdiction in the case because Ivory Coast isn't a party to the Rome Statute that created the court. The ICC, however, ruled in December there was no "temporal limitation" to a declaration backed by Gbagbo's government accepting limited ICC jurisdiction in 2003.

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