Will Ivory Coast’s Gbagbo, Acquitted at ICC, Return Home?

1/31/2019

The acquittal at the International Criminal Court (ICC) of Ivory Coast's former President Laurent Gbagbo on crimes against humanity is making waves in the West African nation where some celebrate his pending release, but others fear a repeat of the deadly 2010-2011 post-election violence that led him to The Hague.

Since the ICC handed down its decision, Gbagbo supporters have hailed him as "the messiah" and some mention a possible presidential run in 2020. Despite supporters' wishes for him to return, Gbagbo may be thwarted by an international arrest warrant issued against him by Ivory Coast's government after a conviction in absentia last year for misappropriating funds from the West African Central Bank. He faces a possible 20-year prison sentence and likely would have to negotiate with the government before any attempt at returning home.

Victims of the post-election violence have opposed Gbagbo’s return to Ivory Coast, and many have demonstrated against his release. “If the ICC releases Gbagbo, let it know that it will be responsible for the events that will follow,” said Amidou Kante, the relative of one victim. “We are not getting justice. Today we cannot accept Gbagbo’s return.”

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