June 7, 2012 / 4:59 PM / in 7 years

Ex-Ivory Coast leader seeks war crimes trial delay

* Gbagbo’s lawyers say he is too ill for trial

* They say he was mistreated in Ivory Coast detention

* Former president accused of crimes against humanity

AMSTERDAM, June 7 (Reuters) - Lawyers for former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo asked for his war crimes trial to be postponed on Thursday, saying he was unwell after being mistreated during detention in the West African nation.

Gbagbo, who refused to stand down as president after losing elections in 2010, is accused of committing crimes against humanity during the ensuing four-month civil war, in which about 3,000 people were killed and more than a million displaced.

In a brief filed to the International Criminal Court (ICC), his defence team said Gbagbo was ill after suffering cruel and inhumane treatment during the eight months he spent in detention in Ivory Coast before he was sent to The Hague.

Charges against him are due to be confirmed on June 18. The defence did not suggest a new date.

A medical expert said his detention in solitary confinement “should be considered a form of ill-treatment as serious as physical abuse and even torture,” according to the defence.

When he arrived in The Hague in December, Gbagbo complained of being ill, saying he had been held in a windowless room in Ivory Coast.

The defence also said it needed more preparation time given the case’s complexity and complained prosecutors had more money and manpower, which could prejudice the trial.

Gbagbo is the first former head of state brought before the 10-year-old ICC. However a special court in The Hague last month convicted former Liberian president Charles Taylor of war crimes, making him the first former head of state to be convicted for atrocities since the trials of Nazis after World War II. (Reporting By Thomas Escritt; Editing by Pravin Char)

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