3 November 2012

Cote d'Ivoire: ICC Judges Say Gbagbo Fit Enough to Take Part in Proceedings

Photo: Fraternité Matin
Former President Laurent Gbagbo.

Arusha — A Trial Chamber at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has ruled that former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo was fit enough to take part in proceedings concerning his case.

"The Chamber is satisfied that Gbagbo is able to meaningfully exercise his fair trial rights. Accordingly, the Chamber finds that Gbagbo is fit to take part in the proceedings against him. A date for the confirmation of charges hearing will be set shortly, in a separate decision," reads part of the ruling dated November 2, 2012.

Lawyers for the ex-president had contented that their client could not stand the trial because of his ill health, arguments which were vehemently opposed by the prosecution.

In their decision, judges concluded that Gbagbo possessed the capacities to understand the charges against him, as well as the conduct and the possible consequences of proceedings against him, and was capable of giving instructions to counsel as well as of making a statement.

They said adjustments would need to be made in order to enable the ex-president to participate fully at the confirmation of charges hearing.

Such adjustments, the judges noted, may include, shorter court sessions, the provision of appropriate facilities for Gbagbo to rest during breaks, the possibility for him to excuse himself from all or part of the proceedings and to follow them via video-link if he so wishes.

The Chamber was of the view that Gbagbo, together with his counsel, should be given the opportunity to provide views on appropriate arrangements.

"Accordingly, the Chamber shall, in due course, determine the appropriate practical arrangements for the conduct of the hearings in consultation with the Defence and the Registry," the judges said.

The Chamber further noted that, regardless of the finding that Gbagbo was fit to take part in the proceedings against him, his health requires heightened attention.

"For this reason, and taking into account the responsibilities of the Registry under Regulations of the Court, the Chamber instructed the Registry to submit a report and to explore any measures that can be taken to help physical recovery of Gbagbo," the judges ruled.

Gbagbo, the first Head of State to be indicted by the ICC, was arrested on April 11, 2011 and transferred to custody of The Hague based court on November 30, 2011.

He made his initial appearance on December 5, 2011 when he was informed of charges of crimes against humanity including murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution and other inhuman acts allegedly committed in his country between 16 December 2010 and 12 April 2011.

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