Ivory Coast: Former President Laurent Gbagbo Appeals For Unconditional Release

Lawyer of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo on Thursday appealed to the court to lift all the conditions imposed on their client last year when he was released following his acquittal on crimes against humanity charges, reported Reuters.

The International Criminal Court, the world’s first permanent war crimes court, acquitted Laurent Gbagbo on crimes against humanity charges on Jan. 15, after prosecutors failed to prove any case against him. Gbagbo was conditionally released from detention after more than seven years in custody to Belgium.

 The court imposed conditions on him including that he had to turn in his passport, not leave the country hosting him, report weekly to the police or the court and not contact witnesses or talk to the media about the case. He was not allowed to head back to Ivory Coast and has to remain in Belgium and report to the court whenever a hearing in his case is called.

Gbagbo’s lawyer Dov Jacobs told judges they didn’t have the right to rein in the ex-president’s liberty.

“The defence is of the view that in principle no restriction should be placed on a person who has been acquitted,” Jacobs told the court. “This person should be able to enjoy all his rights, including his civil and political rights.”

Gbagbo’s lawyer had indicated that the former president wants to return to Ivory Coast as he intends to participate in some form in October’s presidential election. Gbagbo is yet to confirm if he seeks to run again for the presidency.

Ivory Coast’s government has already submitted arguments to the ICC asserting that Gbagbo’s possible return to the country could lead to unrest as he continues to pose a flight risk.

Last year, the ICC prosecutor had asked the appeals judges to reverse the acquittal and to declare a mistrial, resetting Gbagbo’s legal process.

Prosecution lawyer Reinhold Gallmetzer warned judges on Thursday that Gbagbo’s gets released unconditionally, he might go to a country other than Ivory Coast where he would not be extradited to Ivory Coast or the ICC.

Caroline Finnegan

A professionnal journalist for the past ten years, I cover global news and economic affairs for The Chief Observer.

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