The Hague - A lawyer for Ivory Coast's former president Laurent Gbagbo, suspected of crimes against humanity, has challenged the competence of the International Criminal Court, court documents showed on Friday.
The defence has asked the court "to declare that the ICC is not competent regarding the period and the facts in the arrest warrant issued against Laurent Gbagbo on November 23 2011", Emmanuel Altit, Gbago's defence lawyer, wrote in a court document that has been made public.
A hearing to consider the charges against Gbagbo, which is due to start on 18 June, should enable the ICC judges to consider if the evidence produced by the prosecution is sufficiently strong to merit a trial.
The first former head of state to be handed over to the ICC, Gbagbo, 66, has been behind bars in The Hague since 30 November. He was previously detained in northern Ivory Coast.
Gbagbo is suspected by the ICC of being the "indirect co-author" of crimes against humanity committed during post-election violence in 2010 and 2011. His refusal to concede defeat at the polls to current President Alassane Ouattara plunged the west African country into a crisis that claimed about 3 000 lives.