Ghana’s former president Jerry John Rawlings has hailed the acquittal of ex- Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo by the International Criminal Court, describing the eight year trial as a waste of Gbagbo’s his life.
“A true African patriot is free,” he tweeted few minutes after the international court in The Hague exonerated and ordered the immediate release of Gbagbgo who was accused crimes against humanity.
Gbagbo was captured in 2011 in a presidential palace bunker by UN and French-backed forces supporting his rival, Alassane Ouattara.
His refusal to cede power after losing the 2010 Ivorian elections to Alassane Ouattara led to a five-month crisis which killed more than 3,000 people and displaced more than 5,000 people in the West African nation.
He was put on trial by ICC prosecutors but the judges Tuesday ruled he had no case to answer because the prosecution failed to prove the several charges against him.
The BBC reported the presiding Judge, Cuno Tarfusser, said the prosecution had “failed to demonstrate that public speeches by Gbagbo constituted ordering or inducing the alleged crimes”.
Welcoming Gbagbo’s exoneration by the ICC Tuesday, Mr. Rawlings said Gbagbo did not deserve to spend eight years of his life going through the trial which he claimed was masterminded by France and its former president Nicolas Sarkozy.
“Lauren Gbagbo, despite his human weaknesses, did not deserve to have eight years of his life wasted by the machinations of France and Sarkozy, and their western allies,” Rawlings asserted in the Tuesday tweet.
He said while “we celebrate” it is important to remember those who have sacrificed their lives for “the true emancipation of Africa.
A true African patriot is free… pic.twitter.com/PCF7dpHX0k— Jerry John Rawlings (@officeofJJR) January 15, 2019
“I hope this will serve as a new beginning for Cote d’Ivoire – a source of unity, not division; strength, not weakness!
A United Nations report issued in October 2012 alleged some of Gbagbo loyalists have set up a “strategic command” base, from where they were planning to overthrow the Ouattara government.
This was at a time that one of Gbagbo’s key allies, Justin Kone Katinan, who was arrested on August 24, 2012 on an Ivorian warrant for economic crimes he allegedly committed, was going through extradition proceedings.
Ghana disputed the UN’s findings, but the then President, John Dramani Mahama pledged that the country will not be used as a haven for any coup plotters.