ICC to rule on Gbagbo release next week

Laurent Gbagbo (File: AFP)
Laurent Gbagbo (File: AFP)

International Criminal Court judges will rule next Tuesday on whether to release former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo as his trial for crimes against humanity drags on, the court said.

Gbagbo, 73, has spent seven years in detention in The Hague accused of fomenting bloodshed after refusing to accept defeat in elections in the West African nation in 2010.

The court said in a statement that it would "deliver decisions on requests for provisional release and no case to answer motions on 15 January 2019" at 10:00 GMT for Gbagbo and his co-defendant Charles Ble Goude.

Gbagbo has asked the ICC - set up in 2002 to try to the world's worst crimes - to completely acquit him on the grounds that there is not enough evidence to proceed with the trial.

He has lodged a separate application asking for bail should the trial continue.

About 3,000 people died in clashes during what prosecutors say was an attempt by Gbagbo and Ble Goude to ignore the internationally recognised victory of Gbagbo's bitter rival Alassane Outtara.

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The pair are accused of four counts of crimes against humanity including murder, rape and persecution during post-electoral violence.

Gbagbo's lawyers said in November that his trial had descended into "fake reality" and that prosecutors had distorted history about the violence in the Ivory Coast.

At a bail hearing in December, they argued that the "elderly and fragile" suspect would pose no flight risk if freed on bail and that he was ageing faster because of the length of time he had spent behind bars.

ICC judges rejected another application for bail by Gbagbo as recently as April.

Gbagbo was arrested after a months-long standoff with Ouattara's troops, aided by UN and French forces. He was turned over to the ICC in 2011.

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