Ivory Coast’s ex-president Laurent Gbagbo released to Belgium

Former leader released month after he was acquitted by ICC on condition that he would surrender his passport.

Laurent Gbagbo
Belgium will host Gbagbo pending a possible appeal after he was cleared of crimes against humanity on January 15 [Peter Dejong/Reuters]

Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo is now in Belgium under conditional release after being acquitted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) last month.

“Mr Gbagbo is now released under conditions in Belgium,” an ICC spokeswoman said on Tuesday without giving further details.

The conditions include that Gbagbo will return to court if required for a possible prosecution appeal against the acquittal and that the 73-year-old surrenders his passport to Belgian authorities.

On Saturday, Belgium said it would in principle host Gbagbo pending a possible appeal after he was cleared of crimes against humanity on January 15.

A spokesperson from Belgium’s immigration service said that Gbagbo confirmed he had been given a visa.

“We have given instructions to grant him a visa […] which allows him to stay for 90 days,” Belgian immigration office spokeswoman Dominique Ernould told the AFP news agency.

The former leader and his aide Charles Ble Goude had been staying in an undisclosed location since their release from an official detention centre late on Friday.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said on Saturday that there had been “a request from the court to host Mr Gbagbo simply because he has family in Belgium: his second wife, a child in Brussels”.

“We have concluded that it is alright for him to stay in Belgium while on conditional release,” he said, adding: “There will be surveillance.”

The delay in Gbagbo’s release was because prosecutors said that he should be kept in detention pending a possible appeal against his acquittal, arguing that he would not return to the court if there was a retrial.

Appeals judges rejected the prosecution argument on Friday after Belgium said it was ready to host him.

Source: News Agencies