ICC acquits ex-leader of Ivory Coast and henchman
Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court on Jan. 15 acquitted former Côte d'Ivoire president Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé, his former youth minister. Gbagbo and Blé Goudé were accused of four counts of crimes against humanity related to violence following a disputed 2010 election that left 3,000 dead and 500,000 displaced. Gbagbo was arrested in 2011 in a presidential palace bunker by UN and French-backed forces supporting his rival, Alassane Ouattara. He was the first former head of state to face trial at the ICC. The Chamber ordered both accused to be immediately released. A prosecution request to extend Gbagbo's custody pending appeal was rejected. "The acquittal of Gbagbo and Blé Goudé will be seen as a crushing disappointment to victims of post-election violence in Cote d'Ivoire," said Amnesty International in a statement. (BBC News, Reuters, Amnesty International, ICC press release)
Since the Rome Statute took effect in 2002, only two defendants have been convicted by the ICC—both from Democratic Republic of Congo. President Omar Bashir of Sudan, wanted by the ICC for genocide, remains at large and in power. Former Chad dictator Hissène Habré was convicted of crimes against humanity by an African Union court in 2016.
Gbagbo released to Belgium with conditions
Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and political leader Charles Ble Goude were released on bail to Belgium after being acquitted last month on charges of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
The court imposed several conditions on the men’s release, including: abiding by all instructions and orders of court, providing address and contact information, not traveling beyond the territorial limits of their municipality of residence without the court's permission, surrendering documents like passports, reporting weekly to law enforcement, not contacting witnesses of case, not talking to the press concerning the case and "[abiding] by any additional reasonable conditions imposed by the State of release." (Jurist)