The Hague, December 5, 2011 (FH) - Former President of Côte d'Ivoire Laurent Gbagbo on Monday gave details about his arrest, his time in jail and how he was transferred to The Hague during his initial appearance before the International Criminal Court (ICC), strongly criticizing France's role.

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At the opening of the hearing, in the presence of the Prosecution and the Defence, Presiding judge Sylvia Fernandez de Gurmendi ensured that Laurent Gbagbo was clearly informed of the charges brought against him and of his rights under the Rome Statute of the ICC.

Laurent Gbagbo then explained that he was arrested on April 11, 2011, "under French shelling" while 50 French tanks surrounded the presidential building.

Two days later, he was transferred to a jail in Korhogo (North of the country): "I couldn't see the sun. I didn't know what was happening in the sky, except when it rained", he complained. "I am not a young man, I am 66", he added.

He also said that he would be happy to confront the evidence brought against him, if any.

Numerous supporters of the former president, coming from Brussels, Paris and The Netherlands attended the hearing in the public gallery.

Confirmation of charges hearing have been set up for June 18, 2012.


© Hirondelle News Agency