13 November 2012

Cote d'Ivoire: Court Again Refuses to Release Former Ivorian President

Photo: Fraternité Matin
Laurent Gbagbo at the ICC.

Arusha — The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday rejected a second attempt by former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo to obtain provisional release, and ordered him to remain in custody. This comes after Gbagbo earlier failed to get proceedings against him suspended on health grounds.

Gbagbo is accused of crimes against humanity during widespread violence that followed presidential elections in December 2010. No date has yet been set for his confirmation of charges hearings.

Counsel for the former head of state, the first to be indicted by the ICC, applied for his provisional release for the first time in May 2012, but the Court dismissed the request in July, and the Appeals Chamber confirmed the decision in October.

But at a hearing on October 30, Gbagbo's lawyers renewed the application, claiming that there were changes of circumstances warranting that he be granted bail, including his ill health and the availability of a state willing to host him, to restrict his movement and ensure his availability in court.

However, Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi refused to review the Court's earlier ruling, saying she was "satisfied that there are no changed circumstances since the decision on Interim Release that affected Gbagbo's detention". She recognized that provisional release can be granted for medical reasons but referred to a November 2 Court ruling that Gbagbo was fit to take part in the proceedings against him, even if his health required heightened attention.

Concerning the offer by a state to host Gbagbo should he be granted conditional release, the judge asked the Registry to seek further information from that state.

"It is necessary to first obtain the abovementioned information from the Registry. Thereafter, the Single Judge will determine whether conditional release should be considered, under which conditions and where they could be enforced," reads part of the decision.

Gbagbo was arrested on April 11, 2011, and transferred to custody of the ICC in The Hague on November 30, 2011. He made his initial appearance on December 5, 2011.

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