7, February 2019
Former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo has been released on bail to Belgium following his acquittal by the International Criminal Court in The Hague on charges of crimes against humanity, the court said Tuesday.
Belgium said on Saturday that it had agreed in principle to host Gbagbo pending a possible prosecution appeal against his acquittal by the ICC, but that final arrangements were being made. The 73-year-old former strongman and his aide Charles Ble Goude have been staying in an undisclosed location since Friday when the Hague tribunal freed them from detention.
“Mr Gbagbo is now released under conditions in Belgium,” an ICC spokeswoman said, without giving further details. ICC judges acquitted Gbagbo and Ble Goude on January 15 on charges stemming from a wave of violence after disputed elections in the west African nation in 2010.
Around 3,000 people were killed in the violence. Gbagbo spent seven years behind bars and had been on trial since 2016. The delay in Gbagbo’s release was because prosecutors said that he should be kept in detention pending a possible appeal against his acquittal, arguing that he would not return to the court if there was a retrial.
The release conditions include that Belgium will guarantee that Gbagbo would go back to the ICC if required. He must also surrender his travel documents, report to authorities weekly, avoid contacting witnesses in Ivory Coast, and refrain from making public statements about the case, court documents said on Friday.
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”.
“We have concluded that it is alright for him to stay in Belgium while on conditional release,” he said, adding: “There will be surveillance.”