International Criminal Court judges on Tuesday acquitted former Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo of all war crimes charges and ordered his immediate release.
Presiding Judge Cuno Tarfusser said that prosecutors failed to prove their case and Gbagbo and co-defendant Charles Blé Goudé, a close ally and former political youth leader, should be set free.
The ICC said this in a statement on Tuesday.
The ICC judges ruled that he had no case to answer because the prosecution had not managed to prove several charges against him.
They have ordered his immediate release.
He was accused of four counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, persecution and other inhumane acts allegedly committed during post-electoral violence in Ivory Coast between December 16, 2010 and April 12, 2011.
But the former Ivorian President pleaded not guilty to charges of planning post-election violence that left 3,000 dead, as his war crimes trial opened at ICC.
Hundreds of Gbagbo’s supporters gathered outside as the hearing began, demanding the release of a man they say is a victim of neo-colonial meddling by former colonial power France.
Gbagbo refused to accept defeat by rival Alassane Ouattara. Last year, ICC said judges had ordered Gbagbo to remain in detention during his war crimes trial.
Judges said Gbagbo presented a flight risk and has a “network of supporters” that could obstruct or endanger trial proceedings if he were released.
More to follow