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Ivory Coast refuses to transfer former first lady Simone Gbagbo to ICC

By Faith Karimi and Christabelle Fombu, CNN
September 21, 2013 -- Updated 1057 GMT (1857 HKT)
Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo and his wife Simone were arrested on April 11, 2011.
Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo and his wife Simone were arrested on April 11, 2011.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ivory Coast officials want arrest warrant against Simone Gbagbo dismissed
  • She is accused of crimes against humanity following 2010 post-election violence
  • Her husband, ex-president Laurent Gbagbo, is in the custody of the ICC
  • They have denied the charges

(CNN) -- Ivory Coast says it will not transfer former first lady Simone Gbagbo to the International Criminal Court, and plans to try her in a domestic court instead.

Gbagbo is accused of crimes against humanity following postelection violence in 2010.

Her husband, former president Laurent Gbagbo, is in the custody of the Hague-based court awaiting trial over similar charges.

Government officials said they plan to file a motion to dismiss an arrest warrant against her.

"The councils' decision is to judge Mrs. Gbagbo in Ivory Coast, by the Ivorian courts which have now been restored and even to guarantee her a fair trial with the rights to a defense," the government said in a statement Friday.

Officials said they will inform the international court of the decision.

Alleged crimes against humanity

The former first lady is accused of crimes against humanity in the aftermath of her husband's election defeat in 2010.

Laurent Gbagbo, then the incumbent president, refused to step down after Alassane Ouattara was declared the winner of the election. The standoff sparked months of violence between supporters of the two sides, leaving thousands dead.

The ICC warrant issued last year alleges that as a member of the president's inner circle, his wife was an "indirect co-perpetrator." She attended meetings where plans were discussed and carried out to persecute Ouattara supporters, according to the warrant.

Her husband surrendered to the ICC in December of that year, and is currently awaiting trial at The Hague on crimes against humanity for the civil unrest and deaths.

Both have denied the charges.

Backlash against the ICC

African governments have accused the Hague-based court of unfairly targeting the continent.

The African Union plans to hold a meeting next month to discuss withdrawal of member nations from the ICC to protest what it describes as "hunting" of leaders from the continent.

Its planned meeting comes as Kenyan deputy president, William Ruto, is undergoing trial at the court on charges related to postelection violence in 2007.

Kenya's parliament voted to leave the ICC this month, days before the deputy president's trial started.

So far, all cases before the ICC are against Africans in eight countries. They include Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Libya, Ivory Coast and Mali.

Some of the cases such as Ivory Coast were supported by their respective governments.

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