18 January 2019

Cote d'Ivoire: Gbagbo's Detention 'Disrespects Human Rights', Says Lawyer

Photo: Fraternité Matin
Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé (file photo).

Despite their acquittal at the International Criminal Court (ICC) earlier this week, Cote d'Ivoire former strongman Laurent Gbagbo and his right-hand man Charles Blé Goudé are to remain in custody, pending the prosecution's appeal, according to a statement issued by the court.

"I'm not surprised," Bernard Houdin, Gbagbo's lawyer, told RFI, saying that his client had been in detention for years and was looking forward to returning to Cote d'Ivoire.

Both Gbagbo and Blé Goudé were cleared of all charges of crimes against humanity committed in the period after the disputed elections in 2010.

Two out of the five judges dissented from the request made by ICC prosecutors to keep both men detained, saying there was a "concrete risk" of Gbagbo not returning to court if the acquittal was later overturned.

Prosecutors cited the fact that Simone, Laurent Gbagbo's wife, had an outstanding warrant out for her arrest, but the Ivorian government had not complied with the extradition request.

The new hearing is slated to begin on 1 February, but the ICC did not show a timeline for a possible next decision.

The judges brought the trial to a close earlier than expected, calling the prosecution case "exceptionally weak".

"For some obscure reasons, they are trying to keep Mr. Gbagbo from his freedom. It goes against all the basic principles of the ICC - as was decided just a few days ago," said his lawyer, Houdin.

"It's a decision that seriously disrespects human rights," he added.

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