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SACP calls for the immediate release of the Ivorian former President Laurent Gbagbo who is illegally detained by the International Criminal Court (ICC)

17 November 2018

The South African Communist Party notes with concern the unfolding trial of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, which is currently in progress at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The trial exposes some incongruities that warrant attention. Firstly, President Laurent Gbagbo has been held in detention since 30 November 2011 against all common sense. Secondly, provisional release was denied 13 times, even though his guilt remains to be proven.

This blatant undermining of justice cannot help but result in a conclusion that the trial is a farce. The revelations by Médiapart, a French online investigative newspaper, have brought to light the actions of certain high officials of French diplomacy, especially those who had already served at the ICC as colleagues of its prosecutor and others who even still work there in the trial process. France was found to have been involved in the procedure at all stages: the referral to the ICC, the request for investigation, the decision to open an investigation and the transfer of President Laurent Gbagbo.

But, France did not just help in the incarceration of President Laurent Gbagbo. Three weeks after the confirmation of charges hearing (19 - 28 February 2013), and even before the defence team of President Gbagbo could make written submissions (28 March 2013), Laurent Fabius, then Minister of Foreign Affairs, rushed to The Hague, on 21 March 2013 surely informed of the weakness of the prosecution`s case. François Mattei wrote that “Laurent Fabius went there after the confirmation hearing to discuss with the ambassador ... the progress of the case. According to our sources, the last days before the judges gave their verdict, the minister`s cabinet was agitated and tried to know what the decision could be” in ( Pour la verité et la justice, p.289). The result of this diplomatic action is now known.

Faced with a clear lack of evidence, instead of taking a decision to reverse the charges and consequently release President Laurent Gbagbo, the ICC opted for an adjournment, while asking the prosecutor to provide additional evidence. The ICC failed to demonstrate neutrality, fairness and objectivity.

The revelations of Médiapart inform us that President Laurent Gbagbo was imprisoned for reasons other than the commission of crimes. The interventions and the rather exculpatory witnesses produced by the prosecutor, as well as the evident interference of the French government and the bias in the proceedings, are all indicative of blatant manipulation of a system for political rather than just reasons. It is for these reasons that the SACP demands the immediate release of the former President Laurent Gbagbo and his Minister Blé Goudé.

ISSUED BY THE SOUTH AFRICAN COMMUNIST PARTY | SACP

FOR GENERAL ENQUIRIES ON SACP STATEMENTS CONTACT:

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