Hague-based court accused of bias by Cote D’Ivoire’s former President Laurent Gbagbo

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Gbagbo is the most senior politician to stand trial at the global war crimes tribunal since it was set up 13 years ago. He remains influential at home and his trial could rekindle tensions in the Cote D’Ivoire, the world’s largest cocoa grower. However, his supporters and many victims of the 2010 clashes have accused the prosecutors of being selective and of mainly targeting the Gbagbo camp, criticism that Bensouda rejected.

“The investigations into the situation in Cote d’Ivoire will be on both sides of the conflict and my office has not departed from that until now. We started investigations of course, it is at the stage where it is very confidential, we cannot inform you of what we are doing, what we are investigating, because investigation by its very nature is a confidential process that is ongoing.” Fatou Bensouda, ICC Prosecutor

The Gbagbo trial is a test for the ICC, seen in much of Africa as a European-backed neo-colonial institution, Gbagbo’s defense lawyer, said his client was confident.

“He hopes that this trial will offer an extraordinary opportunity for everything to be said and because everything will be said, each person will be able to take ownership of their story and the Ivorians will be able to reconcile again. The trial is an opportunity for reconciliation, it is for this reason that he awaits it with confidence,” Emmanuel Altit, Laurent Gbagbo’s defence lawyer

The ICC has so far convicted just two little-known Congolese warlords. Gbagbo’s trial will be closely watched for evidence that it can successfully tackle higher-profile cases.

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