Former Ivory Coast president is well enough to stand trial

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 02, 2012 1:05 PM
Former Ivory Coast president is well enough to stand trial

By Thomas Escritt

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo, who stands accused of multiple war crimes, is well enough to stand trial, judges at the International Criminal Court ruled on Friday.

But they also warned that his fragile mental health required close monitoring and appropriate treatment.

Preparations for Gbagbo's trial for crimes against humanity including murder, rape and persecution have been on hold since June, when he told judges the ill-treatment he had received at the hands of his captors in Ivory Coast had left him unfit to stand trial.

Judges found Gbagbo, 67, was able to understand the charges against him, which relate to the civil war that followed his refusal to stand down after losing presidential elections in 2010. Some 3,000 were killed and more than a million were displaced in four months of fighting.

The trial can only begin once judges have confirmed the charges against Gbagbo and no date has been set yet.

One of the doctors the court consulted found that Gbagbo was "a shadow of his former self", while another said he tired easily and had symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

When he arrived in The Hague last December, Gbagbo said he was ill after having been held in a windowless room.

"The question is not whether Mr Gbagbo is at present in full possession of the higher or better faculties he may have had in the past," they wrote, "but whether his current capacities are sufficient for him to take part in proceedings against him."

A third doctor cited in the judges' ruling said Gbagbo seemed "more concerned with salvaging his image" than with addressing the specifics of the case.

Gbagbo is the first former head of state to be brought before the 10-year-old ICC - the world's first permanent war crimes court - which earlier this year handed down its first conviction, jailing Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga for 14 years.

(Reporting By Thomas Escritt; Editing by Stephen Powell)