The Hague, November 30, 2011 (FH) - Laurent Gbagbo was transferred overnight from Côte d'Ivoire to the International Criminal Court detention centre which is located within a Dutch prison in Scheveningen, in The Hague suburbs.

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"Mr Gbagbo allegedly bears individual criminal responsibility, as indirect co-perpetrator, for four counts of crimes against humanity, namely murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution and other inhuman acts, allegedly committed in the territory of Côte d'Ivoire between 16 December 2010 and 12 April 2011," the ICC said in a statement.

He is the first former head of state to be tried by the ICC since its inception in 2002.

Laurent Gbagbo is slated to appear before the judges for a preliminary hearing in the coming days. His lawyer before the ICC, Emmanuel Altit, intends to denounce during that hearing that his arrest and detention in the north of Côte d'Ivoire were illegal.

This transfer takes place less than two weeks before Côte d'Ivoire parliamentary elections set for December 11. It followed a discreet meeting, last week in Paris, of Luis Moreno and President of Côte d'Ivoire Alassane Ouattara.

Answering to those who fear that the ICC could have been manipulated, Ivorian regime's lawyer before the ICC, Jean-Paul Benoît, told Hirondelle News Agency on the phone that "there is no doubt that the election date makes the case highly sensitive (...) However, the ICC is jealous of its independence and the Ivorian government is not dictating the proceedings".


© Hirondelle News Agency