Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court say they will appeal Tuesday's surprise acquittal of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo of crimes against humanity in connection with the deadly violence after his loss in the 2010 presidential elections.
The three-judge panel ordered the immediate release of Gbagbo and Charles Ble Goude, his close aide and the country's former youth minister, but suspended the order until Wednesday to give the prosecution time to file an appeal.
In its notice to the court, the prosecutors urged the judges to place strict conditions on Gbagbo's and Ble Goude's release, citing a fear that they may flee the court's jurisdiction if the appeal was successful.
More than 3,000 people were killed in late 2010 and early 2011 when Gbagbo refused to accept his defeat by Alassane Outtara, his bitter rival and current president. Presiding Judge Cuno Tarfusser said the majority of the judges had determined there was no evidence that Gbagbo and Ble Goude had concocted a “common plan” to push their supporters towards violence.
Tuesday’s verdict was the latest setback for prosecutions of accused war criminals at The Hague.
Ex-Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba was acquitted last year of war crimes allegedly committed by his militia in neighboring Central African Republic, after his initial verdict was overturned. Prosecutors were forced to drop charges against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2015 involving deadly violence following the 2007 presidential election.