After a trial lasting roughly a decade, the former president of Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo, is a free man, the International Criminal Court (ICC) confirmed in a ruling on Wednesday.
Gbagbo was acquitted of all charges in 2019 – even before his trial over serious violent crimes following 2010 presidential elections had ended – because the prosecution’s evidence was “exceptionally weak,” according to the judges. The ICC on Wednesday upheld that acquittal.
The prosecution had appealed, citing serious legal violations and procedural errors. But the appeals chamber did not allow any of the objections to stand and confirmed the acquittal by majority vote.
Gbagbo, provisionally released from prison in 2019, was the first former head of state ever to be tried by the court. His acquittal marked a serious setback for chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.
After the 2010 elections, Gbagbo did not acknowledge his defeat. In the ensuing violence, some 3,000 people were killed in the West African country. The ex-president was extradited to the ICC in 2011.
The acquittal of his co-accused, Charles Ble Goude, was also upheld.