ICC Issues warrant for Simone Gbagbo's arrest

BY: Abigail Bonsu

Simone GbagboThe International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Simone Gbagbo, the wife of Ivory Coast's ex-President Laurent Gbagbo.

She is wanted for alleged crimes against humanity committed in the wake of disputed presidential elections in 2010.

Her husband is already awaiting trial at the court in The Hague on four charges of crimes against humanity.

Some 3,000 people died in the unrest after he refused to accept defeat.

Mr and Mrs Gbagbo were arrested in a bunker in April 2011, five months after the elections, following a military assault on their residence in the main city, Abidjan.

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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.

Before the transfer, both he and his wife were charged in Ivory Coast with economic crimes, including looting, armed robbery, and embezzlement.

Analysts say the former first lady was a powerful politician in her own right.

Some saw her as the real hardline influence on Mr Gbagbo, preventing him from giving up power.

According to the AFP news agency, the warrant for Mrs Gbagbo on four charges was issued in February, but only made public on Thursday.

It is for "crimes against humanity of murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution and other inhumane acts", the ICC says.

The warrant accuses her of participating in the planning and orchestration of the violence.

"Simone Gbagbo was ideologically and professionally very close to her husband... Although unelected, she behaved as the alter ego of her husband, exercising power and taking state decision," Reuters news agency quotes the warrant as saying. - BBC