Former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo has managed to escape conviction by the International Criminal Court and will now be granted asylum by Belgium.
His release is conditional on him staying silent on the case, surrendering his passport and remaining in that country as unsatisfied prosecutors prepare to appeal his acquittal by the ICC.
The court was not satisfied with the evidence against Gbagbo.
Gbagbo, the first former head of state to be brought before the International Criminal Court, faced four counts of crimes against humanity, murder, rape and other atrocities, in relation to the Ivorian political crisis in 2010 which resulted in the deaths of some 3,000 people.
The former president of La Côte d’ Ivoire refused to concede defeat after being beaten by Alassane Ouattara in an election run-off in 2010, swearing himself in for another term, although he had been in power for ten years.
Alassane Ouattara who had the support of ECOWAS, the AU, the UN and France, also refused to back down. Each declared himself president and the stalemate triggered a bloody civil conflict that left thousands dead and close to a million Ivorians seeking refuge. Some fled east into Ghana.
According to several commentators, Laurent Gbagbo’s acquittal is a disappointing turn of events for people who suffered directly during the standoff in Côte d’Ivoire and human rights groups concerned about the atrocities committed.
It also somewhat reduces the credibility of the court as a citadel of justice against powerful and untouchable people like heads of states.