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Grounds exist for trial of former Ivory Coast leader, judges rule

By the CNN Wire Staff
December 5, 2011 -- Updated 1741 GMT (0141 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo faces criminal charges in The Hague
  • He is accused of crimes against humanity
  • A three-judge panel ruled reasonable grounds exist to believe Gbagbo is responsible

(CNN) -- A three-judge panel of the International Criminal Court ruled Monday that reasonable grounds exist to believe former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo was responsible for crimes committed during post-election violence nearly a year ago.

Gbagbo, 66, is accused of four counts of crimes against humanity for his role in attacks by forces loyal to him on those believed to be supporters of his election opponent, Alassane Ouattara, who was recognized internationally as the winner of the 2010 election.

Gbagbo refused to relinquish power after the election, resulting in widespread violence that ended in April. More than 3,000 people died in the violence, prosecutors say.

Prosecutors accuse Gbagbo of responsibility for murders, rapes, persecution and other acts against Ouattara's supporters.

Gbagbo and his lieutenants "allegedly exercised joint control over the crimes, and made a coordinated and essential contribution to the realisation of the plan," the court said in a press release following Gbagbo's initial hearing Monday.

At the hearing, the court verified Gbagbo's identity and ensured he was informed of the charges against him.

The court ordered a June 18 hearing to determine whether sufficient evidence exists take Gbagbo to trial.

Gbagbo arrived in The Hague on Wednesday in what his adviser, Toussaint Alain, called an illegal transfer.

The action comes a week before scheduled parliamentary elections in Ivory Coast. Three political parties in an umbrella coalition with Gbagbo's Front Populaire Ivoirien issued a statement saying they would boycott the elections as a result of Gbagbo's transfer.

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