Former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo was taken into custody at the International Criminal Court Wednesday where he will face charges of crimes against humanity including murder and rape, stemming from his involvement in fueling post-election violence.
Gbagbo has been accused of supporting the criminal activity of local militias loyal to him after the November 2010 presidential election that he lost to opponent Alassane Outtara. According to the court, pro-Gbagbo forces systematically attacked Outtara supporters and that the attacks were often directed at specific ethnic or religious communities, leaving nearly 3,000 people dead.
Following his defeat in the election, recognized by international election observers, Gbagbo refused to acknowledge the validity of the results and staunchly vowed to remain in power. For months, violence raged in the streets of Ivory Coast’s capital, Abidjan, as forces loyal to Gbagbo battled against Ouattara’s forces, backed by French military forces. Gbagbo was eventually captured in April 2011. Prior to last year’s election, Gbagbo had been in power as president of Ivory Coast since 2000.
"Mr Gbagbo is brought to account for his individual responsibility in the attacks against civilians committed by forces acting on his behalf," prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said in a statement. "Leaders must understand that violence is no longer an option to retain or gain power. The time of impunity for these crimes is over."
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(Photo: EPA/NIC BOTHMA /LANDOV)