|"Laurent Gbagbo, former President of Ivory Coast, and his wife Simone are watched by republican forces in a hotel in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on Monday, April 11, 2011." (Aristide Bodegla/AP)|
By Mike Corder
Associated Press dispatch on Time.com, November 30, 2011
"The International Criminal Court charged former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo with murder, rape, persecution and inhuman acts Wednesday, crimes allegedly committed as his backers fought brutal battles to keep him in power last year. Gbagbo, 66, is the first former head of state taken into custody by the court since it was established in 2002, although prosecutors also have charged Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir with genocide and Libya's former leader, the late Moammar Gadhafi, with crimes against humanity. 'Mr. Gbagbo is brought to account for his individual responsibility in the attacks against civilians committed by forces acting on his behalf,' Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said in a statement. 'He is presumed innocent until proven guilty and will be given full rights and the opportunity to defend himself.' Moreno-Ocampo stressed that both sides of the political divide in Ivory Coast committed crimes in the post-election chaos and that his investigation was continuing. That statement appeared aimed at countering fears that Gbagbo's arrest could further stoke tension in Ivory Coast because it gives the appearance of victor's justice. Grave abuses were also committed by forces loyal to the country's democratically elected leader, Alassane Ouattara, who enlisted the help of a former rebel group to force Gbagbo from office. ...
A convoy of cars whisked Gbagbo to the court's detention unit close to the North Sea, following an overnight flight that touched down in the Netherlands shortly before 4 a.m. (0300 GMT) Wednesday. He is the sixth suspect taken into custody by the court, which has launched seven investigations, all of them in Africa. A further 11 suspects remain at large and the court has no police force to arrest them. According to court papers, Gbagbo is charged as an 'indirect perpetrator' in a carefully orchestrated campaign of violence against civilians perceived as supporters of Ouattara. 'Allegedly, the attacks were committed pursuant to an organizational policy and were also widespread and systematic as they were committed over an extended time period, over large geographic areas, and following a similar general pattern,' the court said in a statement. Prosecutors say about 3,000 people died in violence by both sides after last year's election. Rights groups welcomed Gbagbo's extradition. 'The arrest and surrender of President Laurent Gbagbo to the ICC marks the first significant step toward addressing impunity for crimes against humanity and war crimes' in Ivory Coast, said Jonathan O'Donohue of Amnesty International. But O'Donohue also urged investigation of both sides by the court. 'Amnesty International has documented crimes against humanity, as well as war crimes, including murder, enforced disappearances, torture and crimes of sexual violence by all sides,' he said. The United Nations, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have documented how forces loyal to Ouattara torched villages that voted for Gbagbo, and executed those that could not run away, including the elderly and the disabled, by rolling them inside mattresses and then setting them on fire. [...]"