On January 15 2019, Mr Laurent Gbagbo, the former head of state of Côte d'Ivoire (2000-2011) and his right-hand man, Charles Blé Goudé, were acquitted  from all charges of crimes against humanity that were allegedly committed between 2010 and 2011. Post-electoral bloodshed in Côte d'Ivoire in 2010 resulted in the death of about 3,000 people and the displacement of 500,000. Gbagbo was charged with four counts of crimes against humanity: murder, rape, other inhumane acts or – in the alternative – attempted murder, and persecution, allegedly committed during the 2010-2011 post-election violence in Côte d'Ivoire. Gbagbo, who has pleaded not guilty, was taken into custody by the ICC in 2011. He remained in custody for seven years. The trial was a landmark in the history of the ICC. Gbagbo was the highest profile official and the first former head of state, to stand trial at the ICC since the establishment of the Court in 2002.

Because of a lack of sufficient evidence, Gbagbo and his co-defendant Blé Goudé were acquitted and released. Even though the country had not ratified the Rome Statute of the ICC, Côte d'Ivoire accepted jurisdiction of the ICC under article 12(3) of the Rome Statute in 2003. This was reconfirmed by the head of state of Côte d'Ivoire in 2010 and 2011. Côte d’Ivoire ratified the Rome Statute in 2013. Partial implementation of ICC crimes into national law followed in 2014.

Following his acquittal on January 15, Gbagbo was released on bail to Belgium. Belgium agreed to host the former ivorian ruler because of Gbagbo's family ties in Belgium. The Prosecution team of the ICC sought guarantees that Gbagbo and Blé Goudé would return to court if necessary.

Ivorian president Alassane Ouattara states that justice must be served: "We are continuing our investigations in order to establish who is responsible (for the deaths)." The Prosecution team of the ICC plans to appeal against the acquittal. The team still has the right to appeal the January 15 decision to acquit Mr Gbagbo and Mr Blé Goudé. Currently, the Judges of Trial Chamber I still need to provide their written decision concerning the legal reasons for their decision to acquit, stated ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda.

The acquittal of Gbagbo has led to criticism of the ICC and some experts think that the ruling could damage the ICC's reputationCarsten Stahn, professor of international criminal law thinks that there is a need for more thourough investigations "leading to a sequence of cases per situation". And that the ICC should not immediately go after high ranking officials like Gbagbo, because this "creates a strong risk of losing cases." This in turn could compromise faith in the Prosecution team and their ability "to bring cases against the most responsible in atrocity contexts and to satisfy expectations of victims and survivors", Stahn told AFP.

However, the verdict of the Court also had a positive side to it, Carsten Stahn said: "the prosecutor may be able to take from this that it undermines the notion that the ICC unfairly targets ousted African leaders."

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