Presiding Judge Cuno Tarfusser of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Hague, Netherlands has acquitted Ivory Coast ex-President Laurent Gbagbo and his close ally, Charles Blé Goudé, of all war crimes. The court ordered that the accused be set free immediately.
Both Gbagbo and Blé Goudé were charged with crimes against humanity as a result of their involvement in the violence that occurred after the 2010 elections that resulted in the death of 3,000 people and 500,000 displaced.
You will recall that after the crisis, Gbagbo went into hiding in a presidential palace bunker until he was captured in 2011 by United Nations and French forces that were loyal to his fierce rival, Alassane Ouattara – the proposed winner of the country’s 2010 presidential run-off elections.
Gbagbo had refused to accept defeat and thus remained in power despite the United Nations and France backing Ouattara as winner of the elections.
His refusal to vacate power led to a bloody crisis which lasted for five months, and it is till date described as one of the deadliest clashes to have ever taken place in the country.
Gbagbo, 73, and Goudé, 46, who have been in custody for seven years could not hide their excitement as the judge announced his verdict. Both men went into a warm embrace to celebrate the news as the decision was announced.
There is no doubt that Gbagbo’s victory will intensify the 2020 general elections in the West African country as he remains a strong political figure with a lot of supporters and political structure.
Reacting to the court injunction, council to the defense, Emmanuel Altit speaking on the future of the ex-president said; “It is too soon right now to comment on the future and where he will go, but you can imagine he is very attached to Ivory Coast.”
In a report by the AFP, a victim of the 2010 crisis was not in support of the release.
“If Laurent Gbagbo is released, we victims will not see justice.
“I was a driver but now I am unemployed. I’m not against reconciliation but first you have to look after the victims”; Said Karim Coulibaly, who was shot in the violence and had to have his arm amputated.
What are your thoughts?
Header Image Credit: AFP