Gbagbo’s trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) is due to open in November, with the former president accused of crimes against humanity after his refusal to concede defeat in 2010 elections sparked a bloody stand-off in which some 3,000 people died.
But on Friday his lawyer asked that the trial be moved to Africa, either to Ivory Coast or to Tanzania where an international court trying those suspected of carrying out the Rwandan genocide held its final hearing in April.
“This is a trial that primarily concerns Ivorians,” the lawyer said. “It is therefore crucial that Ivorians are not excluded from the trial.”
Gbagbo, 69, and his former army chief Charles Ble Goude are due to face the ICC on November 10, for their roles in the post-election violence.
Gbagbo, who was eventually toppled in April 2011 by current President Alassane Ouattara’s forces backed by the United Nations and France, was transferred to the ICC’s detention unit in November 2011.
He is the first former head of state to be prosecuted by the ICC, the world’s only permanent war crimes tribunal.
Opening the trial in Abidjan, or Arusha in Tanzania, would “help contribute to the reconciliation process in Ivory Coast”, the lawyer said.