In Depth

Laurent Gbagbo trial: a case of victor's justice?

Former Ivory Coast leader goes before the International Criminal Court - but none of his opponents have been indicted

Laurent Gbagbo has become the first former head of state to stand trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

The ex-president of the Ivory Coast today pleaded not guilty to four charges of crimes against humanity connected to the wave of post-election violence that erupted in the country in 2010.

The hearing has been hailed as milestone in the search for justice, but human rights groups warn that not everyone is being brought to account.

Who is Gbagbo and why is he on trial?

The 70-year-old and his co-accused, former militia leader Charles Ble Goude, are charged with using the army, police and youth militia to commit murders, rapes and other "inhumane acts".

They deny all charges, with Gbagbo claiming he is the victim of an international plot to remove him from power. "All my life, I fought for democracy," he has told the court.

The charges relate to the violence that erupted when Gbagbo refused to stand down after losing the 2010 election to rival Alassane Ouattara.

The bloody conflict that followed, which lasted for four months and claimed more than 3,000 lives, was only brought to end when United Nations-backed troops stormed the presidential palace in the city of Abidjan in April 2011. Gbagbo was arrested and handed over to the ICC.

"Gbagbo is widely regarded as a leader who was willing to destroy his country by refusing to accept defeat at the ballot box," says the BBC.

Will justice be delivered?

Experts warn the trial is another case of victor's justice as none of Ouattara's supporters have been indicted.

"There is mounting evidence, collected by rights groups and independent investigators alike, that Ouattara's forces may have been responsible for some of the most egregious atrocities committed during the crisis," Jeffrey Smith writes for the human rights watchdog Freedom House.

Nevertheless, this may prove to be the most important trial in the history of the international court, says the BBC's Anna Holligan: "This high-profile trial will test the ability of the ICC to obtain reliable evidence from a country in which the government has a political interest in securing a guilty verdict.

"Can the suspects expect a fair trial if much of the evidence comes from their enemy?" she asks.

Recommended

Countries where the burka is banned
Burqa, veil
In Depth

Countries where the burka is banned

New evidence points to final resting place of missing MH370
Operators search for MH370 in 2014
In Brief

New evidence points to final resting place of missing MH370

‘Charles and William’s immense sadness’
Today's newspaper front pages
Today’s newspapers

‘Charles and William’s immense sadness’

Cop who ate cannabis during raid a ‘complete idiot’
A cannabis plant
Tall Tales

Cop who ate cannabis during raid a ‘complete idiot’

Popular articles

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 8 March 2021
10 Downing Street
Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 8 March 2021

Best TV crime dramas to watch in 2021
James Nesbitt stars in Bloodlands
In Depth

Best TV crime dramas to watch in 2021

Quiz of The Week: 27 February - 5 March
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during a visit to Northern Ireland in 2019
Quizzes and puzzles

Quiz of The Week: 27 February - 5 March