Gbagbo supporters protest outside ICC

AP News
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Posted: Dec 10, 2011 10:01 AM
Gbagbo supporters protest outside ICC

Hundreds of supporters of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo protested outside the International Criminal Court Saturday, saying there can be no peace in his country until he is released.

Busloads of mainly Ivorian protesters from countries including France and Belgium pulled up outside the court's headquarters for the peaceful demonstration that was watched over by Dutch police.

Protesters wore T-shirts bearing texts including, "No Gbagbo No Peace," and "President Gbagbo, your people are behind you."

Gbagbo was extradited to the court last month to face charges of murder, rape and other crimes allegedly committed by his supporters as he clung to power after last year's elections.

"Laurent Gbagbo does not belong here, he belongs in the presidential palace," said Tape Groubera, who traveled from Belgium to take part in the demonstration. "Ouattara was installed against the wishes of Ivorians."

Protesters said it was President Alassane Ouattara and his supporters who should have been sent to face international justice, not Gbagbo.

At least 3,000 people were killed from last December to April this year, when United Nations airstrikes finally forced Gbagbo to cede power to Ouattara. Gbagbo had refused to leave office and rejected Ouattara's victory in the election.

Both sides are accused by rights groups of carrying out gross human rights violations during the crisis, leading to claims that Gbagbo's extradition to the court amounts to victor's justice.

Prosecutors have said that their investigation in Ivory Coast is ongoing, meaning more people could still face charges.

Protesters Saturday insisted that Ouattara and his supporters should be indicted.

"We are here to demand the freedom of Mr. Gbagbo. The person responsible for all the killing in Ivory Coast is Mr. Alassane Ouattara," said Guy Willy, who traveled from France for the protest.