The International criminal Court’s Appeal Chamber on Friday unanimously ruled that former Cote d’Ivoire president Laurent Gbagbo be released conditionally.
The court ordered that Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé be released “to a State willing to accept them on its territory and willing and able to enforce the conditions set by the Appeals Chamber.”
“The Appeals Chamber instructed the ICC Registrar, Mr Peter Lewis, to identify and enter into arrangements with States willing to accept Mr Gbagbo and/or Mr Blé Goudé on their territories and enforce the conditions. The ICC Registrar may also make appropriate and necessary interim arrangements regarding the release with conditions pending the conclusion of agreements with States,” a press release from the ICC read in part.
Prosecutors had sought to stop the release of the two, arguing that they would not return to court if a retrial was ordered. They suggested that the two be released into the custody of a country near the Netherlands and give up their passports.
The release order comes following a ruling by Trial Chamber I on January 16, which found that there were no exceptional circumstances preventing the release of Mr Gbagbo and Blé Goudé from ICC detention following their acquittal. This decision was appealed by the Prosecutor.
Gbagbo’s trial began in 2016 accused of crimes against humanity allegedly committed following Cote d’Ivoire’s 2010 election.
Gbagbo refused to concede defeat in that vote, sparking violent clashes between forces loyal to him and those loyal to current President Alassane Ouattara.
Gbagbo was captured in 2011 by Ouattara’s troops, aided by UN and French forces, and sent to stand trial at the International Criminal Court.
His release comes ahead of the Ivorian elections scheduled for 2019.