ICC judges reject calls to detain former Ivorian president Gbagbo
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Judges from the International Criminal Court have rejected a bid by the prosecution to detain the former head of Cote d’Ivoire, Laurent Ggagbo, and his right-hand man, Charles Blé Goudé, a day after the two were acquitted on charges of crimes against humanity.
Cuno Tarfusser, the head judge on a panel of three at the ICC, said “exceptional reasons would need to be maintained to maintain Mr. Gbagbo and Blé Goudé.”
He said evidence put forward by the prosecution during the trial was "exceptionally weak", and that an appeal was unlikely to succeed. He added that there was no proof the pair would flee if asked to return to the court at a later date.
Outside the courtroom in The Hague, Gbagbo’s daughter, Marie Laurence told reporters that she and her father planned to return to Cote d'Ivoire.
73-year-old Gbagbo and 47-year-old Blé Goudé were held in detention at the ICC for more than seven years on charges related to the violence that erupted following the 2010-2011 elections when Gbagbo refused accept defeat by Alassane Ouattara.
They were both charged on four counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, inhumane acts and persecution.
The crimes date back to presidential elections in early November 2010 that went to a second round. Based on results declared by the electoral commission and confirmed by the United Nations, Ouattara won.
The ICC’s announcement of the pair's acquittal and release comes just ahead of a Gilets Oranges (Orange Vests) march in Abidjan on Saturday. The movement was originally organised as a protest against all manner of social injustices, in a nod to France's Yellow Vest protesters, but opting instead for orange – the colour of Gbagbo's FPI party.
As his supporters cheered the decision to release him, President Ouattara said there was no political obstacle to his return.
Support for the victims
Speaking just after news of their acquittal, the government of Ouattara said its support for victims of the 2010-2011 post-election violence would continue. Sidi Touré, the minister of communication said “additional measures would be taken, both materially and financially, to support them", in addition to Ouattara's efforts to “initiate peace and reconciliation” over the years.