Ex-Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo allowed to leave Belgium

The International Criminal Court has ruled allowing former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo to leave Belgium.

He would however be allowed out of Belgium and travel to any country provided that nation agrees to receive him.

Gbagbo and his deputy Charles Ble Goude were both cleared of crimes against humanity last year after standing trial for years over post-electoral violence that killed 3 000 people in Ivory Coast.

Following his acquittal, Belgium agreed to host the 73 year old former leader after his release in February last year.

But Belgium only accepted to host Gbagbo under strict conditions including him being available for court proceedings when prosecutors appeal his acquittal.

Lawyers of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo in February demanded his unconditional release.

They argued before the International Criminal Court judges that their client must be set free without conditions.

Gbagbo’s Popular Front Party (FPI) which is preparing to contest presidential elections in October, welcomed the ruling.

FPI spokesman Franck Anderson told the AFP that “We are happy, it’s important that these restrictions are lifted. “We are waiting for the date of his return. We will welcome him.”

Gbagbo was arrested in 2011 after violence erupted in Ivory Coast shortly after the 2010 elections. He had refused to concede defeat to current president, Alassane Ouattara.

Mr. Gbagbo and his wife Simone, were arrested after a brief civil war. He was handed over to the International Criminal Court.

Gbagbo became the first former head of state to be handed over to the ICC and has been on trial since 2016.


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