The Hague: Ivory Coast's Laurent Gbagbo made
his first appearance on Monday before judges at the International
Criminal Court where he blamed the French military for his
arrest for crimes against humanity.
During the former president's brief hearing before The
Hague-based court, judges decided he must reappear on June 18
for a confirmation of charges hearing when he will learn
whether he must stand trial.
Gbagbo, the first ex-president to be brought before the
court, faces four counts of crimes against humanity, including
murder and rape, over an outbreak of post-election violence
that the UN says killed some 3,000 people.
Judges verified his identity, and the court read the
alleged crimes and his rights under the court's founding
document, the Rome Statute.
In an address before the court, Gbagbo said that his
arrest by followers of his Ivorian rival, Alassane Ouattara,
in April of this year was the direct result of a French
bombing campaign. Ivory Coast is a former French colony.
"Good afternoon madame president, thank you for letting
me speak. I am Laurent Gbagbo," said the ex-president, dressed
in a sombre dark suit, white shirt and black tie.
"I was arrested under French bombs," added the
66-year-old. "The French army did the job."
Judge Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi then set June 18 next
year as the date to confirm charges against Gbagbo for crimes
committed by his troops after he refused to accept defeat in a
November 28, 2010 presidential run-off.
Gbagbo spent a decade at the helm of Ivory Coast, the
world's number one cocoa exporter.
At that next hearing prosecutors must convince the
court's judges they have enough evidence to take him to trial.
The charges relate to violence allegedly committed by
forces loyal to Gbagbo between December 16, 2010 and April 12,
The court issued a sealed arrest warrant against him on
November 23 for his part in the unrest which erupted after
official results proclaimed the victory of Alassane Ouattara,
now the president.
Gbagbo was transferred to The Hague from his northern
Ivorian jail cell on Wednesday.
First Published: Monday, December 05, 2011, 18:58