By Eric Tataw with files from ICC.
The Trial Chamber I of International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague in Netherlands has released an official statement on the release saga of Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé following acquittal. In the statement dated Wednesday January 16, 2019, the Court states its unequivocal position on the release of the duo. Below is a full text of the Release published on the official page of the Court;
“Today, 16 January 2019, Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or “Court”), by majority, Judge Herrera Carbuccia dissenting, found that there were no exceptional circumstances preventing the release of Mr Laurent Gbagbo and Mr Charles Blé Goudé from ICC detention following their acquittal yesterday. The ICC Prosecutor may appeal this decision. It would be then for the Appeals Chamber to decide whether or not to maintain Mr Gbagbo and Mr Blé Goudé in ICC custody.
The Chamber directed the ICC Registrar to obtain the necessary assurances from Mr Gbagbo and Mr Blé Goudé and their respective lead counsel in ensuring the return of Mr Gbagbo and/or Mr Blé Goudé, if and when their presence at the seat of the Court is requested. The ICC Registrar will make the necessary logistical, organisational and diplomatic arrangements for the release of Mr Gbagbo and Mr Blé Goudé; the location of their release shall depend on their observations and on the agreement of the concerned State(s).
Since the beginning of the trial on 28 January 2016, 231 hearing days were dedicated to the presentation of the Prosecutor’s evidence and 82 witnesses testified in court and through video link; thousands of documents were submitted into evidence, hundreds of motions, requests and decisions were filed. On 4 June 2018, the Chamber declared that that the presentation of the evidence of the Prosecutor was closed.
On 23 July 2018, Laurent Gbagbo’s Defense filed its “Requête de la Défense de Laurent Gbagbo afin qu’un jugement d’acquittement portant sur toutes les charges soit prononcé en faveur de Laurent Gbagbo et que sa mise en liberté immédiate soit ordonnée” (Defence Motion for acquittal and immediate release).
On 3 August 2018, the Defence of Charles Blé Goudé filed a No Case to Answer Motion. Hearings were held by the Chamber in October and November 2018 during which the Prosecution, the Legal Representatives of Victims and the two Defence teams presented their arguments regarding this Motion.”
It’s worth noting that Laurent Gbagbo, former Ivorian President was nabbed in 2011 by UN forces backed by France reportedly favouring Alassane Ouattara, Gbagbo’s big time political enemy. Being the first Head of State to have been dragged to the ICC Gbagbo was charged with crimes against Humanity linked to the post-2010 election violence that left over 3,000 people dead and over 500,000 as refugees.
Gbagbo had refused election results stating that he lost to Ouattara, leading to the violence that swallowed many in the towns of Duekoue and Abidjan.
President Gbagbo denied any wrongdoing, citing political witch hunting after counts of crimes against humanity, rape, all forms of sexual violence and murder were levied against him.
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