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Hague Judges Deny Release For Former Ivory Coast President Gbagbo

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Appeals judges at the International Criminal Court on Tuesday rejected a request for the temporary release of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo on health grounds weeks before the start of his trial.

Gbagbo, 70, is accused of plunging his country into civil war rather than relinquishing his grip on power after losing a presidential run-off election in 2010.

His trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 10.
He has been detained in The Hague since November 2011, after being arrested in April of that year in Ivory Coast. Court documents say he suffers from post traumatic stress syndrome and an unspecified physical ailment.

In Tuesday’s ruling, which was the 9th review of his detention by the court, a panel of three judges rejected all grounds of appeal lodged by Gbagbo’s lawyers against a lower court’s decisions to extend his custody.

It said that the trial chamber had properly weighed Gbagbo’s health issues and potential flight risk.

“The appeals chamber found that it was not unreasonable for the trial chamber to find the existence of Mr. Gbagbo's support network posed a risk to abscond or obstruct investigation,” it said.

In June, judges confirmed four counts of crimes against humanity against Gbagbo for post-election violence in which around 3,000 people were killed.

The court has also ordered Ivory Coast to hand over Simone Gbagbo, the former first lady, to stand trial on charges of crimes against humanity.

But Ivory Coast has declined, and in March Mrs. Gbagbo was given a 20 year sentence by a domestic court for crimes against humanity.

The ICC, established in 2002 to prosecute war crimes globally, has faced strong opposition in Africa, which has been the focus of all its investigations to date.