Ivory Coast’s Gbagbo in Belgium after ICC acquittal

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Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo at the International Criminal Court in The Hague on January 15, 2019. He has been granted conditional release. PHOTO | PETER DEJONG | AFP

Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo has secured conditional release and is now in Belgium, according to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“Mr Gbagbo is now released under conditions in Belgium,” an ICC spokeswoman said, without giving further details.

Belgium on Saturday revealed that it had agreed in principle to host Gbagbo pending a possible prosecution appeal, after he was cleared of crimes against humanity on January 15.

Belgian immigration office spokeswoman Dominique Ernould confirmed that Gbagbo had been granted a visa.

“We have given instructions to grant him a visa… which allows him to stay for 90 days,” she told AFP.

It also emerged from the Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said on Saturday that there had been “a request from the court to host Mr Gbagbo simply because he has family in Belgium: his second wife, a child in Brussels”.

Among the key conditions set out for Gbagbo, 73, include that he will return to court if required for a possible prosecution appeal against his acquittal, and that he surrender his passport to Belgian authorities.

Gbagbo was the first former head of state to stand trial at the ICC and had been held in the Netherlands since 2011.

More than 3,000 people died on both sides of the Ivory Coast conflict after Gbagbo refused to concede defeat to his internationally backed-rival — and now-president — Alassane Ouattara.