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ICC suspends decision on releasing former Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo

AFP archive

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has suspended a decision on the release of former Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo after he was acquitted of crimes against humanity charges on Tuesday.

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Earlier on Wednesday, ICC judges had rejected a prosecution request to extend Gbagbo's detention.

The decision had paved the way for the release of both Gbagbo and co-defendant Charles Blé Goudé from a detention facility in The Hague.

Prosecutors have said they would appeal the International Criminal Court’s shock acquittal but cannot do so until judges have issued their full reasoning. The prosecution filed an “urgent request” saying that it “has determined that it intends to appeal ... following the acquittals”.

They said there were “exceptional reasons” to oppose Gbagbo’s unconditional release, citing the “concrete risk” he would not return to face the court if the prosecution's appeal was successful.

Calling the prosecution case “exceptionally weak”, ICC judges said that Gbagbo had given sufficient assurances he would return to the court if ordered to do so.

>> Read more: Ivory Coast’s Laurent Gbagbo, the strongman who refused to let go

'My father has dedicated his life to serving Ivory Coast'

Post-electoral violence

Gbagbo stood accused of involvement in the deaths of 3,000 people killed in months of clashes in the West African nation when he refused to peacefully accept defeat after elections in 2010 that elected President Alassane Ouattara.

His trial at the ICC started in 2016 but he had been in detention since 2011.

In a majority decision of two judges to one acquitting him on Tuesday, the ICC said that prosecutors had “failed to satisfy the burden of proof to the requisite standard”.

Ivory Coast's government on Wednesday called for "calm, forgiveness and reconciliation", Communications Minister Sidi Touré told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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