Former Ivory Coast leader Gbagbo 'fit for trial' - ICC

The Hague - Former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo has been declared "physically and mentally able" to stand trial for crimes against humanity next year, the International Criminal Court said on Friday.

Three ICC-appointed experts "underlined a vast improvement in Mr Gbagbo's state of health and observes that he no longer suffers from clinical post-traumatic stress syndrome or hospitalisation syndrome", the Hague-based court said in a statement.

Gbagbo, 70, and his former militia chief Charles Ble Goude, 43, are due in the dock on January 28, where they face charges of triggering political unrest after Gbagbo refused to concede defeat to bitter rival Alassane Ouattara in 2010 elections.

The trial had been scheduled to open on November 10, but the ICC decided to give judges more time to examine expert reports on Gbagbo's health.

The three experts testified before the judges earlier this month.

Weeks of tensions in the west African nation after the 2010 elections led to a bloody stand-off in which some
3 000 people were killed.

Gbagbo was eventually arrested when Ouattara's forces, backed by the United Nations and France, overran his heavily fortified residence in Abidjan in April 2011.

He was transferred to The Hague in November 2011 and is the first former head of state to be handed over to the ICC.

In an earlier report to the court from November 2012, medical experts agreed he seemed to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and hospitalisation syndrome.

Gbagbo's lawyers in the past had claimed he was "tortured" during his detention in the northern Ivorian city of Korhogo, before his eventual transfer into the ICC's custody.

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