''All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'' - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol 9 No 8

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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Thursday November 22, 2012 - History is made - and all for the wrong reasons as former First Lady of Cote d'Ivoire Simone Gbagbo heads for the Hague on four counts relating to the massive violence that engulfed the country in which more than three thousand souls perished.The two ICC candidates enjoying the trappings of office. Both of them are now scheduled for trial by the ICC for crimes against humanity, rape and other heinous crimes.

The International Criminal Court, the ICC has today Thursday November 22, 2012 made public an arrest warrant the court had issued against former First Lady Mrs Simone Gbagbo on 29th February 2012. The arrest warrant gave reasons as to why Mrs Gbagbo still held by the authorities in Cote d'Ivoire has to face the ICC - among them that she was considered to be a part and parcel of an inner core which planned the systematic mayhem of murder, rape and other unwholesome acts which led to the country's troubles resulting in more than three thousand deaths in battles and attacks between pro and anti-Gbagbo forces.

The ICC Prosecutor, in a published statement after the unsealing of the arrest warrant noted - "The ICC judges decided to unseal their Arrest Warrant against Mrs. Simone Gbagbo for her alleged individual responsibility for crimes against humanity during Côte d’Ivoire’s post-election crisis in 2010 - 2011...

...the type of crimes committed in the aftermath of the 2010 elections did not happen by chance - they were planned and coordinated at the highest political and military levels and all those bearing the greatest responsibility must be held to account. The Office of the Prosecutor is continuing its investigations of all crimes allegedly committed by all sides, focussing on those who bear the greatest responsibility for these crimes.

The investigations are objective, impartial and independent, and are conducted in strict accordance with the law. Additional requests for Arrest Warrants will be submitted to the judges once we have collected enough evidence to substantiate the allegations.

It will be for the judges to decide.

The Office’s investigations are part of a broader effort to promote justice and reconciliation in Côte d’Ivoire to prevent future violence and commission of crimes. Leaders must understand that the Rome Statute has established legal limits to protect victims and prevent massive crimes. Those who use violence to gain or maintain power should take note: they will be held accountable for their actions"

Simone Gbagbo has been described in the arrest warrant as "ideologically and professionally very close to her husband, Mr Gbagbo. She participated in all the meetings during the relevant period. Although not elected, Ms Gbagbo acted as an alter ego for her husband, exercising the power to make State decisions. Ms Gbagbo was also close to other members of Mr Gbagbo's inner circle who were involved in the implementation of the Common Plan.

Moreover, at meetings or public gatherings during the post-election crisis, Ms Gbagbo expressed her support for the Common Plan, and instructed the pro-Gbagbo forces to commit crimes against individuals who posed a threat to her husband's power." The Chamber finds that there are reasonable grounds to believe that, by implementing the common plan, Ms Gbagbo as a member of Mr Gbagbo's inner circle exercised joint control over the crimes by having the power to control and give instructions directly to the youth militia who were systematically recruited, armed, trained and integrated into the FDS chain of command with a view to supporting the implementation of the common plan.

Throughout the post-election crisis, Ms Gbagbo convened frequent meetings with the most senior FDS generals to discuss, in particular, the situation in Abobo. She also instructed other senior FDS officers regarding measures to dissuade anti-Gbagbo demonstrations, and she asked them to put troops at her disposal to provide security for a Minister. Moreover, The Chamber believes that there is sufficient evidence that Ms Gbagbo ensured that the regular FDS forces were given military equipment.

Mrs Simone Gbagbo the former First Lady of  Cote d'Ivoire under the rule of her husband Laurent Gbagbo aka the Iron Lady now has the rather sad record of being the first African First Lady to face the ICC on charges relating to crimes against humanity, murder, rape, sexual violence, persecution and other inhumane acts. It is now left with the authorities in Cote d'Ivoire to escort her to the Hague where she will join her husband who is being prepared for his own trial.

The BBC adds - "Mr and Mrs Gbagbo were arrested in a bunker in April 2011, five months after the elections, following a military assault - backed up by UN and French troops - on their residence in the main city, Abidjan. Mr Gbagbo, 67, was transferred to The Hague a year ago - the first former head of state to appear at the ICC. He has denied responsibility for the post-election violence.

A lesson for other First and so-called Iron Ladies? We sincerely hope so.



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