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Belgium agrees to take in former Côte d'Ivoire president Gbagbo

Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo appears before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, January 15, 2019.
Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo appears before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, January 15, 2019. © Peter Dejong
3 min

Cote d’Ivoire’s former president Laurent Gbagbo, acquitted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, will be taken in by Belgium, the foreign ministry announced.

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"In response to a request from the International Criminal Court, Belgium has agreed to take in Laurent Gbagbo," said spokesman Karl Lagatie, who added that he did not know if the ex-president was already in Belgium.

First head of state before ICC

Gbagbo's case is the first time a former head of state has had to stand trial at the ICC, along with his aide Charles Blé Goudé.

On Friday, the appeals judge Chile Eboe-Osuji said the court would release the former president and his aide to a country willing to accept them on its territory and willing to enforce the conditions as set by the court.

Initially the two had been acquitted on all charges on January 15th related to post-election violence.

Laurent Gbagbo's supporters celebrate his acquittal, 15 January 2019
Laurent Gbagbo's supporters celebrate his acquittal, 15 January 2019 ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP

Immediately the prosecution requested that the two be detained until an appeal is completed.

The request was initially rejected, then accepted.

On Friday, it was once again rejected.

Following that decision, Chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda released a statement stating: “the Prosecution still has the right to appeal the January 15 decision to acquit Mr Gbagbo and Mr Blé Goudé [on] the serious charges against them.“

Post-election violence

73-year-old Gbagbo and 47-year-old Blé Goudé were held in detention at the Hague 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 violence led to over 3000 people killed on both sides.

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