Former Cote D’Ivoire's president acquitted on war crimes charges
Updated 19:37, 17-Jan-2019
The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday acquitted former president of Cote D'Ivoire Laurent Gbagbo of all charges of crimes against humanity over post-electoral violence in the West African nation and ordered his immediate release.  
ICC head judge Cuno Tarfusser said the court in The Hague "grants the defense motions for acquittal for all charges for Mr. Laurent Gbagbo" and his right-hand man, Charles Ble Goude. 
“The majority finds that the prosecution has failed to demonstrate there was a common plan to keep Mr. Gbagbo in power that included the commission of crimes against civilians,” Tarfusser said.
Gbagbo faced four counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, persecution, and other inhumane acts during post-electoral violence in Cote D'Ivoire between December 2010 and April 2011, when he refused to accept defeat by rival Alassane Ouattara.
He and Charles Ble Goude have been on trial since 2016 for war crimes allegedly committed under Gbagbo's leadership.
Outside the courthouse, dozens of Gbagbo supporters, many who traveled to The Hague by bus from Paris, broke into cheers and dancing when the verdict was announced.
“Ooh-la-la, the judge completely dropped the charges,” said Gbagbo supporter Olivier Kipre in the Ivorian capital Abidjan.
“I'm so joyful. I will become crazy today because I didn't believe he would be released.”
(With inputs from AFP, Reuters)
(Cover photo via Reuters: Former Cote D'Ivoire's President Laurent Gbagbo appears before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, January 15, 2019.)