The International Criminal Court will rule on Wednesday whether to uphold the acquittal of Cote d’Ivoire’s former president Laurent Gbagbo, the first head of state to stand trial at the tribunal.
Gbagbo, 75, and his former youth leader Charles Ble Goude were cleared of crimes against humanity in 2019 over a wave of post-electoral violence in the West African nation more than a decade ago.
The prosecution has appealed against the acquittal and wants a retrial over the bloodshed when more than 3,000 people were killed after Gbagbo disputed the results of the 2010 vote.
Gbagbo refused to hand over power to Alassane Ouattara, the current president, but French troops eventually intervened and Ouattara’s loyalists drove Gbagbo from his bunker.
He was then sent in 2011 to the ICC in The Hague.
The judgment will be read out at 3pm (1300 GMT) by the appeals chamber of the Hague-based court, led by former ICC president Chile Eboe-Osuji, and including its current chief Piotr Hofmanski, the ICC said in a statement.
Gbagbo has been living in Brussels pending Wednesday’s decision but plans to go home if it goes his way, thanks to an olive branch offered by his erstwhile rival.
It was not yet confirmed whether Gbagbo and Ble Goude would be in court for the ruling or attend via videolink due to coronavirus restrictions, an ICC spokesman told AFP.
The verdict will be closely watched in Ivory Coast, where Gbagbo’s shadow still hangs over a nation that remains mired in political crisis.
Gbagbo was president from 2000 to 2010, a time of turmoil in the world’s top cocoa grower, formerly a haven of peace and prosperity in troubled West Africa.