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Former Ivory Coast President Gbagbo 'fit for trial': ICC

AFRICA
By AFP | November 28th 2015
Laurent Gbagbo

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

Weeks of tensions in the western African nation after the 2010 elections led to a bloody standoff 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.

Most recently they said the doctors "lacked professionalism in the way they conducted their examinations."

The lawyers however also asked that if their client was found fit to stand trial, hearings should only be held in the afternoon and on four days a week.

The ICC's judges turned down the request, but said provisions should be put in place for Gbagbo to be able to rest between sessions.

Ouattara last month was re-elected in a landslide victory with almost 84 percent of the vote in the west African nation's first peaceful vote in more than a decade.

The Ivorian government has meanwhile repeatedly refused to hand over Gbagbo's wife, Simone Gbagbo, also wanted on charges of crimes against humanity. She was sentenced by an Ivorian court to 20 years in jail for murder.

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