The Prosecutor v. Gbagbo and Blé Goudé
Allegations & Charges
Laurent Gbagbo formed and led the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) party and served as the President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire from 2000-2010. His tenure as President spanned a sustained rebellion or civil war beginning in 2002, including government airstrikes against armed rebels in 2004 which resulted in the death of nine French soldiers. Gbagbo refused to hold elections until 2010. When his political opponent was elected, Gbagbo contested the election and refused to cede power.
The ICC Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) alleges that Gbagbo and his inner circle had a plan to retain power by any means, and that Gbagbo and his supporters implemented this plan or policy by recruiting, arming, and later controlling militia groups and mercenaries instructed to carry out attacks against civilians perceived to support Ouattara. Gbagbo also allegedly used government-controlled media to fuel ethnic tensions, and to galvanize support for attacks against civilians and UN personnel in Côte d’Ivoire. Pro-Gbagbo forces allegedly conducted widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population in Abidjan and western Côte d’Ivoire which followed a similar pattern. In targeting civilians perceived to support Ouattara, pro-Gbagbo forces allegedly targeted civilians in specific ethnic or religious communities. The OTP alleges that these attacks resulted in at least 3,000 deaths, 72 disappearances, and hundreds of cases of sexual violence and enforced disappearance.
Please visit the Court’s website for more information on The Prosecutor v. Gbagbo and Blé Goudé.
The Accused is alleged to have committed the crimes listed below as an individual, jointly with another, or through another person (Article 25(3)(a) of the Rome Statute).
Under this mode of criminal liability, the Accused is charged with the following atrocity crimes:
Murder (Crime against Humanity): Article 7(1)(a)
Rape and Sexual Violence (Crime against Humanity): Article 7(1)(g)-1, (g)-6
Persecution (Crime against Humanity): Article 7(1)(h)
Other Inhuman Acts (Crime against Humanity): Article 7(1)(k)
Pre-Trial Chamber III issued a sealed arrest warrant for Gbagbo on November 23, 2011, which was unsealed on November 30, 2011. Charges were confirmed against him on June 12, 2014. His case was joined with Charles Blé Goudé on March 11, 2015. The trial opened on January 28, 2016.
In an oral decision on January 15, 2019, Trial Chamber I acquitted (by majority) both Gbagbo and Blé Goudé of all charges following presentation of the prosecution’s case and defense motions for acquittal and “no case to answer”. The Trial Chamber found that the prosecution had not adequately demonstrated through evidence the individual criminal responsibility of the defendants for crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Côte d’Ivoire in 2010 and 2011. The Trial Chamber concluded that the prosecution’s evidence was insufficient to demonstrate a common plan or policy to commit the crimes, a necessary contextual element in crimes against humanity under the Rome Statue. The Trial Chamber also found that “public speeches by Mr Gbagbo or Mr Blé Goudé constituted ordering, soliciting or inducing the alleged crimes or that either of the accused otherwise knowingly or intentionally contributed to the commission of such crimes.” The defendants were released with conditions pending the appeal of this decision.
On March 31, 2021, the Appeals Chamber confirmed, by majority, the Trial Chamber’s 2019 decision acquitting Mr Gbagbo or Mr Blé Goudé of all charges. The Appeals Chamber found no material error in the Trial Chambers’ decision of acquittal and process, and rejected the Prosecutor’s appeal.
The acquittal is now final.
The ICC authorized 727 persons to participate as victims in the Gbagbo and Blé Goudé proceedings. While reparations for victims are tied to a conviction or judicial proceeding and therefore will not be available for victims in this case, the Trust Fund for Victims might choose to implement assistance programs in the future (as of March 2021, an assistance program for Côte d’Ivoire was under construction).
More on the Gbagbo and Blé Goudé Trial (non-ABA resources):
Gbagbo and Blé Goudé Trial Monitoring from International Justice Monitor
Human Rights Watch, Q& A: The Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé Trial (2016)
- Initial Appearance : December 5, 2011
Decision on the confirmation of chargesConfirmation of Charges : June 12, 2014
Oral DecisionAcquittal : January 15, 2019
Reasons for Oral Decision (published July 16, 2019)
Press ReleaseAppeals Judgment : March 31, 2021
Summary of the Judgment
Questions & Answers on the Appeal from the ICC