Arusha, December 17, 2012 (FH) – Confirmation of charges hearings in the case of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo are to start before the International Criminal Court on February 19, 2013, according to an ICC statement. Gbagbo is accused of crimes against humanity for his role in widespread violence that followed December 2010 presidential elections.

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Confirmation of charges hearings are held to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.On November 2, 2012, the pretrial Chamber decided that Gbagbo was fit to take part in the proceedings but that practical adjustments would be needed on health grounds. In its decision dated December 14, 2012, the Chamber ordered the Registrar to liaise with the defence on the practical arrangements for Gbagbo's attendance at the confirmation of charges hearings, including the possibility of a video-link from the detention centre.

The defence and the Registry are to submit a report to the Chamber on these arrangements by January 21, 2013, according to the decision. Gbagbo, the first head of state to be tried by the ICC, was arrested on April 11, 2011 and transferred to custody of the Court on November 30, 2011.He made his initial appearance on December 5, 2011 when he was informed of charges of crimes against humanity allegedly committed in his country between December 16, 2010 and April 12, 2011. The date for confirmation of charges hearings comes shortly after the Appeals Chamber dismissed a defence appeal challenging the ICC's competence to try Gbagbo. Judges of the court have also issued an arrest warrant for Gbagbo’s wife, Simone, for crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence allegedly committed during the same period for which her husband is accused. FK/NI/JC