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By Thomas Escritt
THE HAGUE, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Appeal judges at the International Criminal Court on Friday turned down former Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo’s request to be allowed to leave the Netherlands pending a decision on whether he will face trial, saying he might try to abscond.
ICC prosecutors say Gbagbo committed crimes against humanity during a four-month civil war in Ivory Coast in 2010, in which about 3,000 people died and a million were displaced.
“There can be no doubt the charges he faces, including crimes against humanity, rape, murder and other forms of sexual violence, are serious and may result in a lengthy prison sentence if he is convicted,” Sanji Mmasenono Monageng, the presiding judge, told the court.
Gbagbo, who denies committing the crimes, had asked the court for permission to go abroad to recover from ill-treatment he said he had received when he was in detention in Ivory Coast.
Outside the court, Gbagbo’s supporters expressed their disappointment.
“I am sad,” said Danielle Gohou. “I‘m disgusted that they are detaining my president.”
The conflict in Ivory Coast started because Gbagbo refused to stand down after losing the 2010 presidential election to rival Alassane Ouattara.
Gbagbo was captured by fighters backing Ouattara during the final battle for Abidjan and was later arrested and flown to The Hague to appear before the ICC. He is awaiting a decision on whether he will be tried.
If the charges are confirmed, he will become the first former head of state to be tried by the 10-year-old ICC - the world’s first permanent war crimes court - which earlier this year handed down its first conviction, jailing Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga for 14 years.
Charles Taylor, the former Liberian president, was given a 50-year sentence for war crimes in May by a different court, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which is also in The Hague.
Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serb leader, died before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia could reach a verdict. (Reporting By Thomas Escritt; Editing by Pravin Char)