By Janet Sankale
The International Criminal Court in The Hague has vacated its arrest warrant against former Ivorian first lady Simone Gbagbo, according to a decision that was made public on July 29, 2021.
Simone Gbagbo had been charged as an indirect co-perpetrator for four counts of crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the context of post-electoral violence in the territory of Ivory Coast between December 16, 2010 and April 12, 2011.
The arrest warrant was issued on February 29, 2012, alongside the one for her husband, Laurent Gbagbo, who was acquitted in 2019. The Prosecutor appealed against his acquittal, but the Appeals Chamber upheld the ruling in March 2021.
Laurent Gbagbo, a former president of Ivory Coast, was charged with crimes against humanity in connection with post-election violence that left 3,000 people dead.
The Chamber, composed of Judge Rosario Salvatore Aitala (presiding ), Judge Antoine Kesia-Mbe Mindua, and Judge Tomoko Akane, ordered that the warrant of arrest for Simone Gbagbo cease to have effect.
The decision that was dated July 19, 2021 comes after former ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on June 15, 2021 filed a request to vacate the effect of the warrant of arrest.
The evidence against Simone Gbagbo has been reviewed in the light of the acquittal of her husband Laurent for very similar charges, where both the trial chamber and the appeals chamber found that the evidence adduced by the Prosecution does not meet the necessary threshold of “guilty beyond reasonable doubt”.
Ms Gbagbo had not been handed over to the ICC but was convicted domestically for undermining state security, disturbing public order, and organising armed gangs when her husband refused to accept defeat in the presidential election won by Alassane Ouattara in 2010. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2015, but was granted presidential amnesty on August 8, 2018.