The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has acquitted Laurent Gbagbo, former president of the Ivory Coast.

He had been charged with crimes against humanity in connection with violence following a disputed 2010 election that left 3,000 dead and 500,000 displaced.

ICC judges ruled on Tuesday that he had no case to answer because the prosecution had not managed to prove several charges against him. They have ordered his immediate release.

Presiding Judge Cuno Tarfusser said the prosecution had “failed to demonstrate that public speeches by Gbagbo constituted ordering or inducing the alleged crimes”.

Gbagbo’s supporters whooped, cheered and threw their firsts in the air in the public gallery following the announcement.

Gbagbo supporters outside the ICC court

He was the first former head of state to go on trial at the ICC.
Gbagbo was captured in 2011 in a presidential palace bunker by UN and French-backed forces supporting his rival, Alassane Ouattara.

The violence in Ivory Coast, the world’s biggest cocoa producer, came after Gbagbo refused to accept that he had lost a disputed election run-off to Mr Ouattara in 2010.

The five months of violence that followed were described as some of the most brutal clashes the country had ever seen.
During the political stand-off there were bloody clashes and targeted killings in Abidjan in the south, and several hundred were massacred in the western town of Duekoue.

Prosecutors accused Gbagbo of four counts of crimes against humanity, murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution and “other inhuman acts”. He denied the charges, which he said were politically motivated.

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