The Hague, August 16, 2012 (FH) -  The International Criminal Court (ICC) rejected on August 15 a challenge by Ivory Coast former President Laurent Gbagbo's lawyers on its jurisdiction to try him for crimes against humanity.

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"The chamber finds that the court has the jurisdiction over alleged crimes (...) including those committed since 28 November 2010 on the basis of (a) declaration of 18 April 2003," by Ivory Coast, the judges rules.

Cote d’Ivoire is not a party to the Rome statute. However, in April 2003, Gbagbo’s then Minister for Foreign Affairs recognized the ICC’s jurisdiction.

In a request filed in May 2012, defence lawyers argued that the court’s competence would only cover a period running from September 2002 to January 2003, thus would "not be relevant to the period covered by the allegations against Mr Gbagbo".

In their decision, Judges found that the declaration explicitly recognized the Court’s jurisdiction over an “indefinite period”, and that Côte d’Ivoire had therefore recognized ICC jurisdiction from September 19, 2002. The Côte d’Ivoire Presidency reconfirmed the country’s acceptance of ICC jurisdiction on December 14, 2010, and again on May 3, 2011, judges added..

Laurent Gbagbo was arrested on April 11, 2011. He became the subbject of an ICC warrant on November 30, 2011. He was transferred to custody of the ICC on November 30, 2011.

The first head of state to be tried by the ICC made his initial appearance on December 5, 2011 when he was informed of charges of crimes against humanity including murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution and other inhuman acts allegedly committed in his country between 16 December 2010 and 12 April 2011.

On June 26, 2012, defence requested three medical experts to proceed with medical investigation of Gbagbo to determine whether he was fit enough to take part in the proceedings against him. Confirmation of charges hearing have been postponed sine die, pending the health report results.