The International Criminal Court on Wednesday decided to combine the trials of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo and his close ally Charles Ble Goude because their cases alleging post-election violence are nearly identical.
The court “granted the prosecutor’s request to join the cases… in order to ensure the efficacy and expeditiousness of the proceedings,” the Hague-based court said in a statement.
Gbagbo’s refusal to concede defeat after presidential polls in late 2010 sparked a bloody five-month stand-off in the restive west African country in which some 3,000 people died, according to the United Nations.
The court said that Gbagbo and Ble Goude “have had charges confirmed against them which arise from the same allegations, namely crimes allegedly committed during the same four incidents by the same direct perpetrators who targeted the same victims.”
Gbagbo is alleged to have fomented a campaign of violence in a vain attempt to stay in power after being defeated in his bid for reelection by Ivory Coast’s current President Alassane Ouattara.
During the conflict, Ble Goude — dubbed Gbagbo’s “Street General” — whipped up support for the incumbent with fiery speeches urging mass mobilisation against what he called pro-Ouattara “rebels” and their foreign backers.
Prosecutors said Goude commanded men that murdered, raped and burned hundreds of people alive in an orgy of violence involving both sides that ended only after Gbagbo’s arrest in an assault on his Abidjan compound by Ouattara’s French- and UN-backed forces.
Ble Goude was arrested in Ghana in January 2013 and extradited to the Ivory Coast, but it wasn’t until March 2014 that he was sent to the Netherlands to face prosecution at the world’s only permanent war crimes court.
Gbagbo is being held in The Hague, where his trial is set to start in July 2015. No charges have been filed against Ouattara’s backers, raising claims of a “victor’s justice”.
A status conference will be held on April 21 and Gbagbo’s case will no longer start on July 7, the court said.
A court in Ivory Coast on Tuesday sentenced Laurent Gbagbo’s wife Simone to 20 years in prison for her role in the deadly post-election violence.
Photo Credits : AFP