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World Ivory Coast ex-leader Gbagbo heads home after war crimes acquittal

07:40  17 june  2021
07:40  17 june  2021 Source:   afp.com

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The International Criminal Court (ICC) has upheld the acquittal of Ivory Coast 's ex -President Laurent Gbagbo on charges of crimes against humanity. It paves the way for his return to Ivory Coast , where he remains an influential figure. He had been charged in connection with violence following a Prosecutors said Mr Gbagbo clung to power "by all means" and charged him with four counts of crimes against humanity, murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution and "other inhuman acts". The former president, who was captured in April 2011 hiding in a presidential palace bunker

image captionLaurent Gbagbo had been charged with crimes against humanity. The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has acquitted Ivory Coast ex -President Laurent Gbagbo . Presiding Judge Cuno Tarfusser said the prosecution had also "failed to demonstrate that public speeches by Gbagbo constituted ordering or inducing the alleged crimes ". Prosecutors can appeal after the court files its decision in writing. Mr Gbagbo 's supporters whooped, cheered and threw their firsts in the air in the public gallery following the announcement, the BBC's Anna Holligan reports from

timeline: A profile of Laurent Gbagbo © Camille CAMDESSUS A profile of Laurent Gbagbo

Former president Laurent Gbagbo returns to Ivory Coast on Thursday for the first time in nearly a decade, after he was cleared of crimes against humanity and his once-bitter rival welcomed him back in the name of reconciliation.

Gbagbo left the country in humiliation in 2011, after his refusal to accept defeat in an election sparked a conflict that ended in his arrest and dispatch to The Hague.

a close up of Laurent Gbagbo with his mouth open: Laurent Gbagbo, whose refusal to concede electoral defeat tipped Ivory Coast into war, is now being cast in the role of national healer © Issouf SANOGO Laurent Gbagbo, whose refusal to concede electoral defeat tipped Ivory Coast into war, is now being cast in the role of national healer

The 76-year-old's homecoming will be a key test of stability in Ivory Coast, the world's biggest cocoa producer and the wealthiest country in francophone West Africa.

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Ivory Coast ex -President Laurent Gbagbo has now been released after his acquittal last month by the International Criminal Court (ICC). An ICC spokeswoman said Mr Gbagbo was now on conditional release in Belgium, pending a possible appeal. The former leader was charged with crimes against UN and French-backed forces eventually captured Mr Gbagbo in a presidential palace bunker in 2011. Prosecutors said he had clung to power "by all means" and charged him with four counts of crimes against humanity, murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution and "other inhuman

Ivory Coast 's former president Laurent Gbagbo returns on Thursday to a country that he left in humiliation almost a decade ago, forced out after a bloody conflict and dispatched to The Hague to face charges of crimes against humanity. Gbagbo , 76, is set to arrive aboard a commercial flight from Brussels, his home since the International Criminal Court (ICC) acquitted him in 2019. An appeal against the ruling failed in March, paving the way for his return. Gbagbo was ousted in April 2011 after a war sparked by his refusal to accept electoral defeat at the hands of Alassane Ouattara, the current

Gbagbo is set to land in economic hub Abidjan at 1545 GMT aboard a commercial flight from Brussels, his home since the International Criminal Court (ICC) acquitted him in a shock decision in 2019. An appeal against the ruling failed in March, paving the way for his return.

a group of people that are standing in the grass: Gbagbo's hometown of Mama is preparing to welcome back the man they call © SIA KAMBOU Gbagbo's hometown of Mama is preparing to welcome back the man they call "father"

He was ousted in April 2011 after around 3,000 people died in the months-long conflict that followed his refusal to accept electoral defeat at the hands of Alassane Ouattara, the current president.

- Crowds to cheer him on -

Today, Gbagbo has been recast in the role of statesman, called upon to help national reconciliation after elections last year left scores dead.

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Ivory Coast 's ex -President Laurent Gbagbo has denied charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, as his landmark trial began at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The charges relate to the country's civil conflict that erupted after Mr Gbagbo lost elections in 2010. But ahead of the trial Ms Bensouda said investigations into the pro-Ouattara camp had been "intensified". Mr Gbagbo is the first ex - head of state to appear at the ICC, although Liberia's former President Charles Taylor also stood trial at The Hague. Mr Taylor appeared before the Special Court for Sierra Leone and was given

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has upheld the acquittal of Ivory Coast 's ex -President Laurent Gbagbo on charges of crimes against humanity. It paves the way for his return to Ivory Coast , where he remains an influential figure. He had been charged in connection with violence following a Mr Gbagbo has been living in the Belgian capital Brussels since his release from detention two years ago. Back home in November 2019, he was sentenced in absentia for the "looting" of the Central Bank of West African States (Bceao) in the aftermath of the disputed poll - and in theory he could be jailed on

Ouattara, 79, has facilitated his return, issuing his rival with a diplomatic passport and promising him the rewards and status due to ex-presidents.

Ouattara is letting Gbagbo use the presidential salon at Abidjan airport upon arrival, and tents will be set up for dozens of notables to hail his return.

He will then travel through the city to the Attoban neighbourhood, where his old 2010 campaign headquarters are located, according to a statement from his Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) party.

a man and a woman standing in a room: A woman dusts a poster reading 'President Laurent Gbagbo arrives for a true reconciliation of Ivorians' before a mass in his hometown of Mama © SIA KAMBOU A woman dusts a poster reading 'President Laurent Gbagbo arrives for a true reconciliation of Ivorians' before a mass in his hometown of Mama

His motorcade will pass through several areas where crowds of supporters are expected to gather to cheer him on.

map: Ivory Coast © Tupac POINTU Ivory Coast

The party had been in discussions with the government about the scale of the celebrations, with the government preferring a more discrete event.

Ivory Coast: From bloody crisis to Gbagbo's return

  Ivory Coast: From bloody crisis to Gbagbo's return Former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo is scheduled to arrive home on Thursday after being cleared of crimes against humanity for violence following the country's 2010 election. Here is a timeline of the case since the disputed vote. - 2010: Contested election - A presidential election finally takes place in Ivory Coast in 2010 after six postponements since 2005. The constitutional council declares incumbent Gbagbo victor but the electoral commission says his old rival Alassane Ouattara has won.The United Nations says Ouattara -- a former prime minister from the mainly Muslim north -- won. Gbagbo refuses to acknowledge defeat.

Laurent Gbagbo was acquitted of crimes against humanityImage caption: Laurent Gbagbo was acquitted of crimes against humanity. The president of Ivory Coast has said that the former leader Laurent Gbagbo and his right-hand man Charles Ble Goude are free to return to the country after Alassane Ouattara was speaking a week after the International Criminal Court upheld Mr Gbagbo 's acquittal in a case that focused on post-election violence a decade ago. More than 3,000 people were killed in the brief civil war that followed the disputed 2010 vote. Mr Gbagbo refused to step down

Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo appears before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, January 15, 2019. Peter Dejong/Pool via REUTERS. By Stephanie van den Berg and Ange Aboa THE HAGUE/ABIDJAN (Reuters) - The International Criminal Court acquitted former Ivorian Impact on 2020 vote? Gbagbo was the first former head of state tried at the ICC. ICC prosecutors also lost big cases against Jean-Pierre Bemba, the Congolese ex -vice president released last year after his war crimes conviction was overturned, and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who

But a spokesman for Gbagbo told AFP there had been no instructions from the government to restrict gatherings.

Celebrations had already begun in Abidjan ahead of his return.

"Tomorrow there will be nothing but singing and praise," said a resident in the Yopougon suburb, considered pro-Gbagbo.

- 'Father' returns to Mama -

In his home region of Gagnoa, where he is a cult figure, Gbagbo's face has been emblazoned on caps, t-shirts and colourful kaftans proclaiming "The Lion of Africa Is Back."

Preparations have also been underway for Gbagbo's return in his hometown Mama, where they call him "father".

Joseph Goli Obou, a 71-year-old traditional chief clad in a gown bearing Gbagbo's face, said: "I am getting the whole village swept."

However not everyone is overjoyed at his return.

Groups representing the victims of the 2010-2011 post-election violence have condemned the "impunity" he has received and plan to protest in Abidjan on Thursday.

They also point to a 20-year jail sentence Gbagbo was given in absentia for "looting" the Central Bank of West African States during the conflict.

Ivory Coast gears up for Laurent Gbagbo’s return

  Ivory Coast gears up for Laurent Gbagbo’s return Former president’s return seen as test for country and population that still has 2011 bloody conflict fresh in memory.The opposition leader is due to fly back on a commercial flight from Brussels after judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague earlier this year confirmed his acquittal, as well as that of his youth minister Charles Ble Goude, of crimes against humanity. The two had been accused of instigating the post-election violence that engulfed Ivory Coast in 2011.

Authorities have already hinted that this sentence will be lifted.

First elected in 2010, Gbagbo's tenure was marked by division and rebellion in the former French colony nation once seen as a beacon of stability in West Africa.

Elections that should have been held in 2005 were postponed six times until 2010, when he lost to Ouattara. Conflict erupted, leading to his arrest in April 2011 and transfer to the ICC.

His party insists he is returning in peace. In March, it took part in legislative elections, ending a decade-long boycott of the ballot box.

"The wounds are still open... and the authorities are worried that Gbagbo will stir up the crowds again, which is one of his hallmarks," said Rinaldo Depagne, a researcher at the International Crisis Group think tank.

But attention has also turned to a rising Islamist threat after jihadists killed four soldiers near the border with Burkina Faso.

"Above all else, we must form a sacred union" to unite "our efforts to confront the terrorists," prominent pro-Ouattara writer Venance Konan said in a newspaper editorial this week.

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'Give peace a chance', ICoast ex-president tells police .
The former president of Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo, took police to task Sunday for violence during his long-awaited homecoming last week, but insisted the country had to move on. Gbagbo, 76, called for the release of those detained, and for "restraint, to give reconciliation a chance so that peace might take root permanently in the country."Gbagbo, a controversial figure acquitted by an international court of crimes against humanity, voiced concern over "violence perpetuated" Thursday as thousands of supporters celebrated his return, according to a statement signed in his name by spokesman Justin Katinan Kone.

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