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Gbagbo "free to return" following acquittal: Ivorian President

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Laurent Gbagbo

Former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and his former youth minister Charles Blé Goudé are finally acquitted of crimes against humanity by The International Criminal Court (ICC), paving the way for their return to Côte d'Ivoire after a decade of absence.

President Alassane Ouattara said Wednesday that travel expenses of Laurent Gbagbo and members of his family will be borne by the "State of Côte d'Ivoire".

Mr. Gbagbo, the first former head of state to be tried by the ICC, and Mr. Blé Goudé have consistently maintained their innocence in the incidents that left 3,000 people dead in Côte d'Ivoire, after his refusal to recognize Alassane Ouattara's presidential victory in late 2010.

In the name of "national reconciliation", the authorities had granted Laurent Gbagbo two passports, one ordinary and one diplomatic, at the end of year 2020, after he expressed interest to return in December.

While Ouattara said Gbagbo was free to return home, he said nothing about a 20-year sentence given to him in absentia in November 2019 by an Ivorian court for misappropriating funds from the regional central bank.