Laurent Gbagbo, Former President of Cote d’Ivoire, goes to Belgium on conditional release.
■ On 1 February 2019, the International Criminal Court (ICC) ordered the conditional release of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo and his aide Charles Ble Goude, while awaiting their appeal trial from the ICC’s detention centre. Gbagbo is the first former head of state to go on trial at the ICC.
- The conditions of their release include their return to court if required for a possible prosecution appeal against the acquittal.
■ The conditional release follows the acquittal announced on 15 January 2019 by the ICC, which ordered the immediate release of Gbagbo and Ble Goude’s.
- However, on 16 January 2019 prosecutors challenged the decision and judges ruled that Gbagbo should live in an ICC member state. Belgium, where Gbagbo’s wife currently resides, has agreed to host him.
■ Gbagbo has spent seven years in ICC detention centre in The Hague after his arrest by UN and French-backed forces supporting his rival, Alassane Ouattara. Charges include ordering murder and gang-rape during 2011 post-election violence in Cote d’Ivoire, which left more than 3,000 people dead and 500,000 displaced.
■ Monitoring continues on the impact this news can have on voluntary repatriation, as 98% of refugees currently hosted by Liberia are of Ivorian origin. While several have expressed joy about the release of Gbago, others cite insecurity as the reason not to return home.