Former Ivorian President Release By The International Criminal Court

Merely a year after the Ivorian presidential election in 2010, President Koudou Laurent Gbagbo was arraigned in court by the Ivorian judicial institution and the International Criminal court. In April 2011 Laurent Gbagbo was arrested after a short post-period of civil conflict in which about 3,000 people were killed. Laurent Gbagbo the then declared winner of the 2010 presidential election by the Ivorian Constitutional Council largely dominated by the pro-Gbagbo members and contested by the result of the Independent Electoral Commission which was totally accepted by the United Nations saw Gbagbo in a tight corner leading to his arrest by pro-Ouattara forces supported by French troops. After President Gbagbo arrest, he was extradited to the Hague in November 2011, where he was charged with four counts of crimes against humanity – murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution and other inhumane acts allegedly committed between 16 December 2010 and 12 April 2011 in the International Criminal Court (ICC) in connection with post-election violence.

The arrest of Gbagbo at this time gave rise to many political conversations and a weakened African Judicial system by public opinion leaders. However, human rights groups hailed Gbagbo’s arrest while also stating that pro-Ouattara forces that committed crimes should also be held accountable. In addition, to the arrest that was made, Gbagbo’s former budget minister Justin Kone Katinan, a close Gbagbo ally, was arrested on an international warrant in Accra, Ghana on charges of robbery arising from looting of banks in Ivory Coast but the following year, a Ghanaian magistrate rejected the extradition request, determining that the warrant issued by the Ivorian government was politically motivated.

It will be interesting to note that in July 2011 an international arrest warrant was issued against Charles Ble Goude in Ivory Coast for his alleged responsibility in the post-election violence between November 2010 and May 2011 a close ally of Gbagbo and appointed Minister of youth, Professional training, and employment under shared powers between President Gbagbo and President Allasane Ouatarra.

8 years after hearings of the two protagonists Charles Ble Goude and Laurent Gbagbo whose case was joined on 11 March 2015, the court decided to acquit them of all charges after the ICC prosecutors presented the testimony of 82 witnesses and thousands of pieces of evidence to nail them in court. On January 15, 2019, Trial chamber 1 announced the immediate release of both men.

Many within the Ivory Coast celebrated Gbagbo’s acquittal, they whooped, cheered and threw their firsts in the air in the public. However, the ICC Appeals Chamber ordered that he remain in custody “pending the consideration of the present appeal” against his release. Prosecutors also plan to appeal the acquittal. Few days after Gbagbo has been granted release the ICC finally decides to free him on condition, he stays in any ICC member country. Gbagbo destination now according to recent stories in Belgium where he will meet his family and close friends while counterpart is not yet known. It is clear the court does not want Gbagbo to get involved in the Ivorian pre-election exercise schedule in 2020 in fear of an uprising in case he returns to his country.

Adewale Daniel Omojowo
Together we can make it happen. Say No to violence