International Criminal Court prosecutors want joint trial for 2 key Ivory Coast suspects



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THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court said Tuesday they want to put Ivory Coast's former president and another suspect alleged to be one of his key supporters on trial together on charges of involvement in deadly violence that erupted after the country's 2010 presidential elections.

Trial lawyer Eric MacDonald said prosecutors want to try former president Laurent Gbagbo and former youth leader and Gbagbo ally Charles Ble Goude together. Both men are in custody at the court's detention unit in The Hague.

Gbagbo was surrendered to the court three years ago, while Ble Goude was sent to The Hague in March. Neither man was in court for Tuesday's hearing, which focused on Gbagbo's case.

Judges already have confirmed charges against Gbagbo. A decision on whether charges against Ble Goude will be confirmed is expected before year's end.

At the ICC, initial charges by a prosecutor need to be confirmed by judges in a court to clear the way for a trial.

Both men insist they are innocent of charges including murder, rape and persecution during post-election violence that left some 3,000 people dead.

Ble Goude's defense attorney Nick Kaufman, who was not at Tuesday's hearing, said discussions on linking the two men's trials were premature.

"Given the strength of Mr. Ble Goude's defense at confirmation, all prosecutorial talk of a joinder is wishful thinking," he said in an email to The Associated Press.

No date has yet been set for a trial. Prosecutors said they would be ready to start a joint trial in September 2015.

Human rights groups accuse Ble Goude's youth group — the Young Patriots — of playing a decisive role in creating a climate of terror during the postelection violence.

Gbagbo faces charges of involvement in atrocities carried out by his supporters after the election that saw him ousted from office.

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