Tag Archives: Ivory Coast

ICC Announces Third Arrest Warrant from Ivory Coast

Flag of Ivory Coast

The International Criminal Court (ICC) announced yesterday the existence of an arrest warrant for Charles Ble Goude, a former top aide to former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo. Ble Goude’s warrant had been under seal since 2011.   Ivory Coast is not formally a state party to the ICC, but accepted the court’s jurisdiction in 2011 and asked the ICC to probe the post-election violence.

Gbagbo was the first former head of state to appear and face charges at the ICC.  The pre-trial chamber found insufficient evidence at the confirmation of charges hearing, that determination is being appealed by the Office of the Prosecutor.

Former first lady Simone Gbagbo has also been accused of crimes against humanity, and is in custody in Ivory Coast, which recently declined to send her to The Hague to face charges at the ICC.

Ble Goude fled Ivory Coast after the election defeat, was arrested in Ghana and returned to Ivory Coast in January. The Gbagbos and Ble Goude are accused of Crimes Against Humanity in the post election violence in Ivory Coast.

On 23 November 2011, Pre-Trial Chamber III issued a warrant of arrest for Laurent Gbagbo (“Mr Gbagbo”), having found reasonable grounds to believe that he was criminally responsible as an “indirect co-perpetrator” pursuant to article 25(3)(a) of the Statute for the crimes against humanity of murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, other inhumane acts and persecution, committed in Côte d’Ivoire during the period between 16 December 2010 and 12 April 2011.  P.2 Decision to Adjourn.  Footnotes omitted. 

Ivory Coast Refuses to Send Former First Lady to ICC

The government of the Ivory Coast has denied the request of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to surrender its former first lady, Simone Gbabgbo usembassy 2006 cropSimone Gbagbo to the ICC.  A warrant was issued for Simone Gbagbo last year, her husband, former President, Laurent Gbagbo was indicted and surrendered to the ICC following post-election violence.

Ivory Coast had not ratified the treaty when Laurent Gbagbo was in power, but acceded to the court in 2003, reconfirmed ICC authority in 2010, sought the investigation.

Some have portrayed this as a reaction to growing complaints that the ICC has targeted only African cases, but it may be more a reaction to the serious doubts judges have about the case against Laurent Gbagbo.  The pre-trial chamber declined to confirm the charges and instead asked the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) to submit further evidence to support the claims.  OTP declined and instead appealed the decision.

Laurent Gbagbo also argued that his case was not admissible and belonged in Ivory Coast.   The pre-trial chamber based its ruling on the OTP’s presentation primarily of “anonymous hearsay evidence” and found that the evidence presented to date had not established Laurent Gbagbo’s role as an “indirect co-perpetrator” of Crimes Against Humanity, including “murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, other inhumane acts and persecution.”

The case against Simone Gbagbo relies on similar evidence and though she is charged separately, she faces similar, possibly the same allegations.  A warrant of arrest has been issued, but not an indictment, so it is not clear if the accusations are identical or not.

Libya has also refused to turn the two indictees under its control to The Hague.

OTP Announces Appeal of Gbagbo Case

IC Gbagbo Motta eng 195The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, issued a press release today stating the prosecutor’s intention to appeal the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision to adjourn the Confirmation of Charges Hearing in the case against Laurent Gbagbo and ask the OTP to provide more evidence to support the case.

Laurent Gbagbo is the former President of the Ivory Coast and is the first former head of state to face charges at the ICC.  His wife, Simone Gbagbo, remains in custody in Ivory Coast and has also been indicted by the ICC.

On 23 November 2011, Pre-Trial Chamber III issued a warrant of arrest for Laurent Gbagbo (“Mr Gbagbo”), having found reasonable grounds to believe that he was criminally responsible as an “indirect co-perpetrator” pursuant to article 25(3)(a) of the Statute for the crimes against humanity of murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, other inhumane acts and persecution, committed in Côte d’Ivoire during the period between 16 December 2010 and 12 April 2011.  P.2 Decision to Adjourn.  Footnotes omitted. 

Two of the three judges in the pre-trial chamber noted these difficulties with the case:

During the Hearing, the Prosecutor made clear that besides the four charged incidents,  she is relying upon further 41 incidents to establish her allegation for the existence of an “attack directed against any civilian population” under article 7 of the Statute. Of these 45 incidents, the majority of them are proven solely with anonymous hearsay from NGO Reports, United Nations reports and press articles. As explained above, the Chamber is unable to attribute much probative value to these materials. Moreover, many of these incidents are described in very summary fashion, making it difficult for the Chamber to determine whether the perpetrators acted pursuant to or in furtherance of a policy to attack a civilian population as required by article 7(2)(a) of the Statute. The Chamber is also presented with an incomplete picture as to: (i) the structural connections between the so-called “pro-Gbagbo forces” acting across the incidents; and (ii) the presence and activities of the
armed forces opposing them. Ultimately, the Chamber is asked by the Prosecutor to draw numerous inferences from actions or conduct of Mr Gbagbo, his inner circle and the “pro-Gbagbo forces”, but the Chamber does not have enough information to determine whether these inferences are sufficiently supported by the evidence in order to meet the required threshold for confirmation.        Order Paragraph 36, Footnotes Omitted

Judges Kaul and Van den Wingert went on to explain the reason for adjourning rather than declining to confirm the charges:

Despite these difficulties in the evidentiary record of the Prosecutor, the
Chamber considers that this does not automatically have to lead to the immediate refusal to confirm the charges. Although the Chamber is not prepared to accept allegations proven solely through anonymous hearsay in documentary evidence, the Chamber notes that past jurisprudence, which predates the above-mentioned decisions of the Appeals Chamber, may have appeared more forgiving in this regard. Therefore, the Prosecutor in this case may not have deemed it necessary to present all her evidence or largely complete her investigation, following all relevant
incriminating and exonerating lines of investigation in order to establish the truth. The Chamber does not exclude that the Prosecutor might be able to present or collect further evidence and is therefore, out of fairness, prepared to give her a limited amount of additional time to do so. As the Appeals Chamber noted when discussing summary evidence, when the evidence is insufficient the “Pre-Trial Chamber need not reject the charges but may adjourn the hearing and request the Prosecutor to provide further evidence.   Order P. 37, Footnotes omitted.

Also this week, the pre-trial chamber denied the Defense’s challenge to admissibility, the argument that the court cannot hear the case because it should be tried in Ivory Coast rather than in the ICC.  The doctrine of Complementarity prevents the ICC from hearing cases that are or have been prosecuted by national authorities.  Gbagbo has been indicted for economic crimes in the Ivory Coast, but the court found that did not prohibit him from being charged with Crimes Against Humanity in the ICC.

The appeals chamber could overrule the pre-trial chamber and set the matter on for trial, or find that there was not sufficient evidence to confirm, and dismiss the case, or follow the pre-trial chamber’s lead and ask for more evidence or detail before setting the case on for trial.  The judges do seem to be showing little deference to the decision making or evidence interpretation of the OTP.

ICC Issues Arrest Warrant for Former First Lady of Ivory Coast

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands,  last week unsealed an arrest warrant for Simone Gbagbo, the former First Lady of the Ivory Coast.   The warrant, issued under seal in February, was unsealed and made public last week.

The warrant says that the prosecutor requested a warrant against:

Simone Gbagbo (“Ms Gbagbo”) for her individual criminal
responsibility as regards the crimes against humanity of murder, rape and
other forms of sexual violence, persecution and other inhumane acts
committed during the post-election crisis from 28 November 2010 onwards
by the Ivorian Defence and Security Forces (“FDS”), which were reinforced
by youth militias and mercenaries loyal to President Gbagbo (“pro-Gbagbo
forces”), in Abidjan, including around the Golf Hotel and elsewhere in the
country.

The court found reasonable cause to issue the warrant for the crimes against humanity of murder, rape, persecution and “other inhumane acts.” The court found Mrs. Gbagbo responsible as “an indirect co-perpetrator.”    Even so, the court found reasonable grounds that she participated by:

i) adopting the common plan; ii) being aware of its implementation and the
means other members of the inner circle had at their disposal to implement
the common plan; iii) meeting with members of Mr Gbagbo’s inner circle to
discuss and coordinate the implementation of the common plan; iv) playing a
key role in recruiting and instructing the galaxie patriotique, and integrating
them into the FDS; and v) being aware of the contribution of other members
of Mr Gbagbo’s inner circle to the implementation of the common plan.
Furthermore, the Chamber is of the view that Ms Gbagbo was fully conscious
of the factual circumstances that enabled her and other members of
Mr Gbagbo’s inner circle to exercise joint control over the crimes.

Mrs. Gabagbo is the first woman to be charged publicly by the court. Her husband,  former president Laurent Gbagbo, is currently in ICC custody awaiting his confirmation of charges hearing, (similar to probable cause to proceed to trial).  Ivory Coast is not an ICC state party, but acceded to the authority of the court to investigate the post-election violence.  Mrs. Gbagbo is in custody in Ivory Coast, and may face trial there.  As apparently the two remaining indictees in Libya may stay in Libya for trials.  Libya has made clear it does not wish to send Saif Qadafi to the ICC, but wants to proceed with a trial in Libya.