Published on :
The International Criminal Court (ICC) will rule on Wednesday on the acquittal of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo. Accused of crimes against humanity committed in 2010 and 2011 during the post-election violence in Côte d'Ivoire, he is the first head of state to be tried before this tribunal. </p><div> <p>Almost 10 years after the opening of the case, the appeals chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) will rule on Wednesday March 31 on the judicial future of former President of Côte d'Ivoire Laurent Gbagbo. It could confirm his acquittal and thus close the case, or on the contrary open the way to a new trial, desired by the prosecution.
The court’s outgoing attorney general, Fatou Bensouda, appealed in September 2019, eight months after the acquittal, seeking a new trial.
Accused of four counts of crimes against humanity – murders, rapes, persecutions and other inhuman acts – Laurent Gbagbo, 75, and one of his relatives, Charles Blé Goudé, nicknamed “the general of the street”, former head of Young Ivorian patriots, were acquitted in January 2019, and released on conditions a month later.
The two men were found not guilty of crimes against humanity, for which they have always claimed their innocence, committed in 2010 and 2011 during the post-election violence in Côte d’Ivoire, born of Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to recognize the presidential victory of his rival, Alassane Ouattara. This violence killed 3,000 people.
Since then, Laurent Gbagbo has lived in Belgium. The ICC refused a request for unconditional release, but allowed the ex-president to leave the territory if the country he wishes to go to agrees to receive him.
If the acquittal is confirmed, the conditions imposed on the release of the two men would then be immediately lifted, and they could then return to Côte d’Ivoire, a return that would be a real political event.
Surprise acquittal in 2019
In possession, according to his lawyer, of two passports, one ordinary and one diplomatic, the former president hoped to return to Côte d’Ivoire last December. But several times, his return has been postponed and so far, the Ivorian authorities have not commented on the timetable for this return.
The ICC judgment will be delivered at 3 p.m. (1 p.m. GMT) by the president of the appeals chamber and former president of the court, based in The Hague, Chile Eboe-Osuji. It has not yet been confirmed whether Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé will be present in the courtroom or whether they will attend by video conference, due to the restrictions relating to Covid-19, a door told AFP. – speech of the ICC.
The judgment of the ICC should be followed closely in Côte d’Ivoire, where the shadow of Laurent Gbagbo still hangs over a nation scarred by political violence for more than twenty years – including those linked to the last presidential election in October 2020, won by Alassane Ouattara who was standing for a controversial third term, which left nearly a hundred dead.
President from 2000 to 2010, Laurent Gbagbo, still very popular among his supporters, was arrested in 2011. After his surprise acquittal – the judges having notably considered that the evidence against him was insufficient – the office of the prosecutor of the ICC had considered that the judges had not rendered a reasoned decision in due form and had committed errors of law and procedure.
Fatou Bensouda, as well as his services, are under fire from criticism: if the ICC, founded in 2002 to judge the worst atrocities committed around the world, has notably condemned Congolese warlords and a Malian jihadist, the prosecution has failed in its most iconic cases.
Source site www.france24.com