The Hague (AFP) – The International Criminal Court said on Thursday that former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo could leave Belgium after certain last year’s electoral charges for post-election violence in which 3,000 people were killed.
Gbagbo and his deputy Charles Ble Goude were both exonerated from crimes against humanity a year ago, eight years after the former West African strong man was arrested and transferred to the Hague-based court.
Belgium agreed to admit 73-year-old Gbagbo after he was released under strict conditions in February last year, including that he would return to court for an appeal against his acquittal.
An ICC spokesman said Gbagbo could travel if the country he agreed to received him.
Gbagbo’s return to Ivory Coast, where his Ivorian Popular Front Party (FPI) is preparing for the October presidential election, remains uncertain.
But FPI spokesman Franck Anderson was happy.
“We are pleased that it is important that these restrictions be lifted,” he told AFP.
“We are waiting for the date of his return. We will welcome him,” he said.
Gbagbo’s lawyers had asked for his unconditional release and argued that the ICC could not restrict the movements of an acquitted person.
The Hague-based court denied the request on Thursday, but lifted certain restrictions, including the ban on “travel beyond the territorial boundaries of the municipality of the receiving state without the express and prior approval of the court.”
It also lifted the requirement that the two men be required to hand over their identification papers, especially passports, to the court and to report weekly to law enforcement agencies in the country where they resided or to the court.