FILE PHOTO: Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo appears before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands March 31, 2021. ICC-CPI/Handout via REUTERS
May 31, 2021
ABIDJAN (Reuters) -Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo plans to return home on June 17 following his acquittal on charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court, his party said on Monday.
Gbagbo's return could be complicated by an outstanding 20-year sentence given to him in absentia in November 2019 by an Ivorian court for misappropriating funds from the regional central bank.
In April, President Alassane Ouattara said Gbagbo was free to return from the Hague but did not say whether Gbagbo had been pardoned.
Assoa Adou, the leader of a pro-Gbagbo party, announced the date of the former president's home-coming in front of a crowd that had come to celebrate Gbagbo's birthday in Abidjan.
Gbagbo, who turned 76 on Monday, served as president from 2000 until his arrest in 2011, after his refusal to concede electoral defeat to Ouattara. Post-election violence spiralled into a civil war that claimed the lives of 3,000 people.
On March 31 the ICC upheld a 2019 decision which ruled prosecutors had failed to present enough evidence to prove their case against Gbagbo and Charles Ble Goude, a former youth leader and one of his aides.
"He is a son of the Ivory Coast who is coming back after ten years spent outside in unfair conditions," said Leon Emmanuel Monnet, who heads a committee organising his return.
"We will do everything possible to ensure that the return of President Gbagbo is done in peace and for reconciliation."