Ivory Coast ex-President Gbagbo released to Belgium after acquittal

Ivory Coast ex-President Laurent Gbagbo has now been released after his acquittal last month by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

An ICC spokeswoman said Mr Gbagbo was now on conditional release in Belgium, pending a possible appeal.

The former leader was charged with crimes against humanity following a disputed 2010 election that left 3,000 people dead and 500,000 displaced.

He was the first former head of state to stand trial at the ICC.

Belgium agreed last week to host the former president after the charges against him were dropped.

The violence in Ivory Coast, the world’s biggest cocoa producer, came after Mr Gbagbo refused to accept that he had lost a disputed election run-off to his rival Alassane Ouattara.

UN and French-backed forces eventually captured Mr Gbagbo in a presidential palace bunker in 2011.

Prosecutors said he had clung to power “by all means” and charged him with four counts of crimes against humanity, murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution and “other inhuman acts”.

The former president denied the charges, which he said were politically motivated.

Victims and relatives of victims of the 2010 post-electoral violence gather in Abidjan to protest against the request to release Laurent Gbagbo
Image captionVictims of the 2010 post-election violence opposed Mr Gbagbo’s release

ICC judges ruled last month that he had no case to answer and ordered his immediate release.

Court records show judges thought there was “insufficient evidence” to convict Mr Gbagbo of crimes against humanity.

Some experts believe the ruling could damage the ICC’s reputation.

But others say such verdicts demonstrate the ICC’s independence when some leaders who fear its reach try to paint it as a form of neo-colonialism.

Media captionSimone Gbagbo spoke to reporters after it was announced her husband would be acquitted


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