Belgium has agreed to take in former Ivory Coast president, Laurent Gbagbo following his acquittal at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. U
Belgium has agreed to take in former Ivory Coast president, Laurent Gbagbo following his acquittal at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Under the terms of his release, he has to remain in a host country until the tribunal rules on whether to grant the prosecutors’ request for a new trial. He is also forbidden from contacting witnesses in the case and speaking publicly about it. Under further conditions, Gbagbo also had to surrender his travel documents and report weekly. His second wife, 47-year-old Nady Bamba, lives in Belgium.
The ICC freed Gbagbo on Friday after his shock acquittal last month on charges of crimes against humanity. He and his aide Charles Ble Goude were cleared on January 15 over the wave of violence after disputed elections in the west African nation in 2010. Defence lawyers had argued for the two men’s immediate and unconditional release.
Gbagbo, now 73, was the first former head of state ever to stand trial at the ICC. More than 3,000 people died on both sides after Gbagbo refused to concede defeat to his internationally backed-rival now-president, Alassane Ouattara. He had been held by the ICC in the Netherlands since 2011. The ICC’s unwillingness to let Gbagbo return to Ivory Coast may be because of the country’s refusal to surrender Gbagbo’s wife Simone, despite an outstanding ICC warrant for her arrest. She was convicted and jailed by the courts there in 2015, but Ouattara granted her an amnesty last year, allow her release after seven years in detention.
With presidential elections due in 2020, Ouattara has not said whether or not he will run for a second term, and the coalition he formed with Henri Konan Bedie, his former ally against Gbagbo, has collapsed.