ICC confirms trial for Ivory Coast's Gbagbo

The Hague - The International Criminal Court on Thursday confirmed that Ivory coast's former president Laurent Gbagbo will face trial for crimes against humanity, throwing out an appeal by the defence.

"Preliminary Chamber I rejected the defence's request to appeal against the decision relative to the confirmation of the charges," the court based in The Hague said in a statement.

No date has yet been set for the trial of Gbagbo on four counts of crimes against humanity, allegedly committed at the end of his 10-year rule over the troubled west African country, once he refused to accept defeat in an election in November 2010.

His supporters clashed for five months mainly in the economic capital Abidjan with those of President Alassane Ouattara, who was proclaimed winner of the vote by the electoral commission, at a cost of at least 3 000 lives.

Gbagbo, 69, was arrested in April 2011 by pro-Ouattara forces with backing from former colonial power France and the United Nations.

He was transferred to the Hague the following November, becoming the first ex-head of state to face prosecution at the ICC.

He and his aides are accused of "ordering, seeking, encouraging or contributing in any other way" to murders, rapes, inhuman acts and persecution.

Defence lawyers sought to appeal against the trial once it was first confirmed in June, on the grounds that during pre-trial hearings, the court had failed correctly to evaluate evidence provided by the prosecution.

The preliminary chamber, however, ruled on Thursday that the defence had come up with no "concrete issue (...) that could have had an essential impact" and see the charges dropped.

Gbagbo claims that he was ousted in favour of Ouattara as part of a plot by France, while his many remaining supporters in Ivory Coast and some civil society organisations denounce "victor's justice".

The ICC has also detained earlier student leader and militant activist Charles Ble Goude, who served Gbagbo as righthand man during his turbulent rule, when the country was split in two after a 2002 rebellion.

Ble Goude is also suspected of crimes against humanity, like the notorious former first lady, Simone Gbagbo, whom the Ivorian authorities have refused to turn over to the international tribunal.

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