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Africa News of Wednesday, 31 March 2021


Gbagbo can go! ICC upholds acquittal of Ivory Coast ex-president

Ivory Coast's former president Laurent Gbagbo Ivory Coast's former president Laurent Gbagbo

The International Criminal Court sitting in The Hague has upheld the acquittal of Ivory Coast's former president Laurent Gbagbo, the first head of state to stand trial at the tribunal.

The judgment was delivered at 3 pm (1300 GMT) by the appeals chamber of the Hague-based court.

The decision clears the way for the 75-year-old to travel back home as he has been living in Brussels pending today's verdict.

Gbagbo and his former youth leader Charles Ble Goude were cleared of crimes against humanity in 2019 over a wave of post-election violence in the West African nation more than a decade ago.

The prosecution appealed the acquittal and subsequently applied for a retrial over the bloodshed that left over 3,000 dead after Gbagbo disputed the results of the 2010 vote.

Gbagbo refused to hand over power to Alassane Ouattara, the current president, but French troops eventually intervened and Ouattara's loyalists drove Gbagbo from his bunker.

He was sent to the ICC in The Hague the following year.

The chamber is led by former ICC president Chile Eboe-Osuji and includes its current chief Piotr Hofmanski.

The verdict has attracted mixed reaction back home in Ivory Coast, where Gbagbo's shadow still hangs over a nation that remains mired in political crisis.

Gbagbo was president from 2000 to 2010, a time of turmoil in the world's top cocoa grower, formerly a haven of peace and prosperity in troubled West Africa.