Posted by Mariana on 31 Oct 2012 | Comments
Hundreds of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo’s supporters demonstrated outside the International Criminal Court where his lawyers argued anew for his release from detention.
Wearing their customary orange dress and wrapped in their country’s orange-white-and-green flag, around 600 supporters played the drums and sang while chanting: “Give back our president!” and ”ICC, president thief!” Inside the courtroom at the fortress-like building surrounded by barbed wire and electrical fencing in a southern Hague suburb, Gbagbo’s lawyer Emmanuel Altit argued that his client was not a flight risk.
Gbagbo’s lawyers on May 1 filed a request for his “interim release”.
But last Friday, the court turned down an appeal by his lawyers against a decision in July to continue keeping the former strongman behind bars.
On Tuesday, Gbagbo’s lawyers argued anew for his release ahead of a November review on whether or not to continue keeping him in custody.
“Because of his ill health he cannot abscond,” Altit told judges on Tuesday.
“Where will he flee to and how? Let’s think about this.” The 67-year-old, who was transferred to the court in The Hague in November 2011, is the first former president to go before the ICC.
Gbagbo faces four counts of crimes against humanity including murder, persecution, rape and other sexual violence stemming from election violence after he lost the Ivory Coast’s presidential poll in November 2010.
The July ruling said that Gbagbo posed a flight risk, given the gravity of the charges against him and the potentially lengthy prison sentence he faced.
Gbagbo also “appeared to have the political motivations as well as the necessary political contacts and funds to abscond,” the ruling said, amid reports that his supporters in west Africa have been reorganising.
His supporters have denied the accusations.
The iron-fisted ruler had refused to step down in favour of his long-time rival Alassane Ouattara, who was declared the winner and is now president, sparking a crisis in the country.
About 3,000 people died in the ensuing five months of unrest before Gbagbo was arrested in April 2011 by forces loyal to Ouattara, with UN and French military backing.
Prosecutors say Gbagbo continued to maintain a network of supporters who want to see him return to power if released.
A confirmation of charges hearing has been postponed pending a medical evaluation of Gbagbo.
Source: The Times South Africa