Both men had been accused of inciting violence after the tense elections in 2010. Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Ble Goude have been considering returning to the Ivory Coast.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) upheld its acquittal of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and former Youth Minister Charles Ble Goude on Wednesday on charges of involvement in deadly post-election violence.
ICC judge Chile Eboe-Osuji said the appeals chamber decided by a majority to "reject the appealof the prosecutor and confirm the decision of the trial chamber."
Chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that she respected the decision, but added "our independent & objective investigations in Côte d'Ivoire continue into alleged crimes under the Court's jurisdiction," via the ICC Twitter page, using the Ivory Coast's official francophone name.
Ble Goude celebrated his upheld acquittal, saying, "I'm acquitted person now definitely speaking. I thank all the people of Ivory Coast and Africa for their support" upon leaving the court in The Hague.
DW News Africa with Tomi Oladipo, March 31, 2023
The former youth minister said he wanted to return to the Ivory Coast, but he said "it would depend on the government of my country."
Gbagbo, who has been living in Belgium under court orders, previously stated he would also try to return to the West African nation. His lawyer, Emmanuel Altit, told AFP there was "nothing to prevent him returning."
What were they charged with?
Both men were acquitted in 2019 of responsibility for crimes including murder, rape and persecution after the disputed elections in 2010. More than 3,000 people were killed in the violence following the election that was won by Alassane Ouattara, the current Ivorian president.
Gbagbo faces war crimes judges
ICC judges said the prosecutors failed to prove their case, calling the evidence against Gbagbo "exceptionally weak." Prosecutors had accused the judges of making serious errors, including initially giving judgement orally and failing to issue a full written statement until months later.