Former President Jerry John Rawlings is celebrating Tuesday’s acquittal of Ivory Coast’s ex-President Laurent Gbagbo by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
In a tweet acknowledging Gbagbo as “A true African patriot”, Rawlings said Gbagbo despite his human weaknesses, did not deserve to have eight years of his life wasted, and accused France, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Western allies of being behind Gbagbo’s incarceration since his capture in 2011.
Rawlings expressed the hope that Gbagbo’s release from criminal prosecution “will serve as a new beginning for Cote d'lvoire - a source of unity, not division; strength, not weakness!”
He also called for due recognition for “all who have sacrificed their lives for the true emancipation of Africa, our continent.”
A true African patriot is free... pic.twitter.com/PCF7dpHX0k— Jerry John Rawlings (@officeofJJR) January 15, 2019
Gbagbo faced charges of crimes against humanity following Ivory Coast's violent 2010 election whhich he refused to have lost.
Thousands were reported to have died in the ensuing standoff between his supporters and loyalists on one side, and his rival Alassane Ouattara and his supporters, aided by UN and French-backed forces, ending only after Gbagbo's capture in 2011.
A BBC account of court proceedings quote ICC judges as saying that he had no case to answer because the prosecution had not managed to prove several charges against him and therefore ordered his immediate release.
The report also quotes presiding Judge Cuno Tarfusser as saying the prosecution had "failed to demonstrate that public speeches by Gbagbo constituted ordering or inducing the alleged crimes".