Last ditch attempt by prosecutors to keep ex-Ivorian leader in custody
By Stephanie van den Berg THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court on Wednesday made a last ditch attempt to keep ex-Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo in custody, appealing an order for his release after he was acquitted on crimes against humanity charges. Judges ruled on Tuesday that prosecutors had failed to prove any case against Gbagbo and co-defendant Charles Ble Goude and that their continued detention could no longer be justified. Gbagbo has been in custody for seven years.
By Stephanie van den Berg
THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court on Wednesday made a last ditch attempt to keep ex-Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo in custody, appealing an order for his release after he was acquitted on crimes against humanity charges.
Judges ruled on Tuesday that prosecutors had failed to prove any case against Gbagbo and co-defendant Charles Ble Goude and that their continued detention could no longer be justified. Gbagbo has been in custody for seven years.
But in a late filing, prosecutors asked a higher panel of five appeals judges to overturn a trial chamber ruling on Wednesday that rejected a prosecution attempt to keep them in custody.
If the men are freed "there is a concrete risk that, once released, the accused will not appear for the continuation of the proceedings in this case including the present appeal," prosecutors wrote.
"Pending the decision of the appeals chamber on this prosecutor’s request ... Mr Gbagbo and Mr Blé Goude shall remain in ICC custody," court spokesman Fadi El Abdallah said.
A ruling by the appeals judges would follow the filing of written arguments by parties on Thursday, court documents said.
In their decision earlier on Wednesday, the lower court had rejected the prosecution motion to extend custody for any possible appeal by prosecutors, dismissing the case as "exceptionally weak".
It is unlikely their acquittals would be overturned by a higher tribunal and the men had assured the court they would return if required, Presiding Judge Cuno Tarfusser said.
Gbagbo hopes to return home to Ivory Coast, his daughter said.
"My father will not live in any other country than Ivory Coast. He would go back and we expect him to go back," Marie Laurence Gbagbo, told Reuters outside the court.
Marie Laurence Gbagbo declined to comment on the former president's possible political ambitions, saying: "I can't speak for my father on this. It is a very delicate question."
Gbagbo's acquittal was deplored by victims' groups representing those who died in violence that killed around 3,000 people during Ivory Coast's 2010 election, which Gbagbo refused to concede.
Hundreds of thousands fled the unrest that prosecutors blamed on Gbagbo and victims fear his return home could revive hostilities in Abidjan.
"The defendant's release may increase tensions," Paolina Massidda, a legal representative of the victims, said at the court in The Hague.
Despite his victory in The Hague, Gbagbo faces a possible 20-year prison sentence in Ivory Coast based on a conviction in absentia last January for misappropriating funds from the central bank of the eight-nation West African CFA franc zone.
The government has not commented on whether the ruling will be enforced if he were to return.
"I believe that the government is in a new push to reconcile Ivorians and so it's not the moment to twist the knife in the wound with convictions that are not real convictions," the lawyer of Gbagbo's wife, Rodrigue Dadje, told Reuters.
(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Additional reporting by Ange Aboa in Abidjan Writing by Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Janet Lawrence)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.