Laurent Gbagbo’s lawyer demands his unconditional release

Former Ivory Coast president, Laurent Gbagbo

The lawyer representing former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, who was acquitted by the International Criminal Court but held on probation in Belgium because of the prosecutor’s appeal, demands his “immediate and unconditional release” and the possibility for him to run for the 2020 presidential election.

In his 22-page request, obtained by AFP, Emmanuel Altit, lead counsel for Laurent Gbagbo, asks the Chamber to “order the immediate and unconditional release of Laurent Gbagbo” “so that ‘he may be free to go wherever he wants, for example in his own country’.

“Laurent Gbagbo could indeed, at the request of political leaders of the country, be led to participate in the campaign or even be led, by hypothesis, to apply for his own candidacy,” writes the lawyer.

Gbagbo, though acquitted of all charges against him can not go to where he wants, he can not publicly say what he wants, he can not participate in public meetings at which he would like to participate”.

The maintenance of the restrictive regime of freedom would keep Gbagbo from playing any role in public life and in the reconciliation of his country. This would prohibit him, for example, from participating in one way or another in the forthcoming presidential elections”.

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda appealed the acquittal of crimes against humanity in January in favor of Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé, the former leader of the pro-Gbagbo Young Patriots movement.

Pending the continuation of the trial, Gbagbo resides in Brussels, and Blé Goudé, which no country has hosted, remained in the Netherlands.

The two men were tried for crimes against humanity committed in 2010 and 2011 during the post-election violence that left 3,000 dead in Côte d’Ivoire, before being acquitted and released under conditions.

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