Ivory Coast's Gbagbo remanded to world court



Ivory Coast`s Gbagbo remanded to world court The Hague: Ivory Coast's ex-president Laurent Gbagbo was remanded to the custody of the International Criminal Court today to face charges over post election violence that killed some 3,000 people.

"He is here," a source close to the investigation, who asked to remain anonymous, said shortly after the former west African president arrived at the ICC's detention unit in a seaside suburb of The Hague.

The 66-year-old is the first former head of state to be surrendered to The Hague-based body. He found out he would be transferred to the court only on Tuesday as he was served an ICC arrest warrant, one of the lawyers in Ivory Coast, Jean Gbougnon, said.

A plane carrying the former president landed at Rotterdam airport a little before 0830 IST, the ANP news agency reported. From there, he was taken to the detention facility, about 20 kilometres away.

Ivory Coast's new rulers had been pressing for weeks to have Gbagbo transferred to The Hague and the move comes less than two weeks before the December 11 legislative elections in the former French colony.

ICC spokesman Fadi el-Abdallah said yesterday that the court could not comment on the Gbagbo's case until the judges make their decision public. Gbagbo was flown out of the country in a plane chartered by the Ivorian authorities.

For months, since his arrest in Abidjan on April 11, he had been held in Korhogo, in the north of the country, as Ivorian investigators built a case against him.

At home, Gbagbo faced charges for "economic crimes" allegedly committed during the political crisis and conflict triggered by his refusal to hand over power, which sparked the deadly post-election conflict.

But the ICC had launched its own investigation. Last month, its judges allowed prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo to probe alleged post-election war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by both forces loyal to Gbagbo and also to those loyal to new Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara.

Human Rights Watch, while welcoming news of Gbagbo's transfer to the ICC, made it clear that the forces loyal to Ouattara also had to answer for alleged atrocities committed during the conflict.

"The ICC is playing its part to show that even those at the highest levels of power cannot escape justice when implicated in grave crimes," said Elise Keppler, HRW's senior international justice counsel in a statement.

PTI