ICC to deliberate on Laurent Gbagbo’s judicial future this Wednesday at 3pm

The trial of the former Ivorian president and the former leader of the Young Patriots Charles Blé Goudé began in January 2016. Both had been acquitted at first instance, in early 2019, of crimes against humanity and war crimes, in the context of the violence committed between December 2010 and April 2011, following the announcement of the results of the presidential election. The ICC is expected to rule this Wednesday on these acquittals.
One of the first major highlights of the trial was the intervention of Fatou Bensouda’s team. The prosecutor’s office presented numerous documents and called nearly 80 witnesses, including military and political officials. His goal: to show that Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé were part of a “small circle” that had established a “common plan” to stay in power, following the disputed results in late 2010, and this involved committing acts of violence.
The evidence shows that Laurent Gbagbo was receiving information about the preparation and conduct of attacks, and that he was giving instructions,” said Eric MacDonald, the prosecutor’s chief prosecutor. It is not useful to show that a common plan was established as such: a common plan may not be written down, nor explicit. But it can be inferred from the facts. Our thesis is that Laurent Gbagbo gave orders that led to the commission of crimes. For example, on December 15, 2010, by sending troops against political opponents marching in the streets of Abidjan, Mr. Gbagbo was “at least” aware that crimes were going to occur.
After two years of hearings, the trial tipped over, as the judges were not convinced by the accusations of the prosecutor’s office. They allow the defense of Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé to plead for acquittal, without presenting their witnesses
In mid-January 2019, the judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber acquitted the two defendants. Presiding Judge Cuno Tarfusser even went so far as to speak of the “exceptional weakness” of the prosecutor’s case.
Once acquitted, Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé were released, subject to several conditions. The former Ivorian president will live in Belgium, and the former leader of the Patriots in the Netherlands, while awaiting possible follow-up at the ICC.
The Prosecutor’s Office is asking the Appeals Chamber to reclassify the decision taken in the first instance, to conclude that the case has been dismissed because of “procedural flaws”.
Several scenarios are possible.
If the judges uphold the acquittal decision and thus vindicate the pre-trial chamber, this should close the case for good,” explains Thijs Bougnewt, a research professor at the University of Amsterdam. However,” continues the international crimes lawyer, “things are more complex if the judges follow the prosecutor’s lead and announce a dismissal: they would give the prosecutor the option of starting a new trial. This would mean that a whole new file would be opened. But it will depend on the intentions of the prosecutor’s office.
Deliberations will be held live at 3:00 pm this Wednesday afternoon in The Hague.

About Geraldine Boechat 1810 Articles
Senior Editor for Medafrica Times and former journalist for Swiss National Television. former NGO team leader in Burundi and Somalia