Former Youth Minister Blé Goudé, now 42, is suspected of crimes against humanity committed in his country in post-election violence between December 2010 and April 2011.
According to the prosecution, he bears individual criminal responsibility, as indirect co-perpetrator, for four counts of crimes against humanity (murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution, and other inhuman acts).
“Victims of crimes by pro-Gbagbo forces are one step closer to learning the truth,” says Human Rights Watch. But it also says that “ICC action against the Ouattara side is critical to give victims much-needed access to justice”.
Following the confirmation of charges hearings, the pre-trial judges will decide in the coming months whether or not they deem there is enough evidence to commit Blé Goudé to trial.
The suspect, who was also the leader of the pro-Gbagbo “Young Patriots” militia, was transferred to the ICC in The Hague last March, thus joining his former boss Laurent Gbagbo who has been there since the end of 2011.
The ICC has also issued an arrest warrant for Gbagbo’s wife Simone Gbagbo. Ivorian authorities are still dragging their heels over transferring her.
“However, the ICC has not pursued anyone from the forces that fought for President Ouattara,” says HRW, “despite findings by both international and Ivorian commissions of inquiry that both sides committed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.”
HRW says Ivorian authorities, whilst prosecuting former Gbagbo allies, have also failed so far to take any action against members of President Ouattara’s Republican Forces implicated in crimes related to the crisis.
“The ICC’s one-sided approach has been mirrored at the national level, leaving one side of the conflict beyond the reach of the law,” said HRW senior international justice counsel Param-Preet Singh. “ICC action against the Ouattara side is critical to give victims much-needed access to justice.”
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has always said her office conducts investigations in an independent and impartial way.