Abidjan – Charles Ble Goude, a former right-hand man to Ivory Coast’s ex-president Laurent Gbagbo, on Monday called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to help him return to the country following his acquittal.
“It is your duty to see that I return to Ivory Coast. You have the authority, you have the power, you have the duty,” he said in a speech to ICC judges.
Ble Goude and Gbagbo were both acquitted by the Hague-based court in March of charges arising from post-election violence in Ivory Coast in 2011.
Ble Goude’s call for assistance to enable him to go home follows a demand he made in September for compensation from the ICC.
The West African nation was plunged into deadly violence after Gbagbo refused to accept defeat in the 2010 presidential elections.
The ensuing conflict claimed more than 3 000 lives and more than 200,000 people fled the country.
After he was ousted, Gbagbo was flown to The Hague to face charges of crimes against humanity, of which he was eventually acquitted.
Ble Goude, now 49, was acquitted on the same charges.
Gbagbo has since returned home from Europe and met with his erstwhile rival, President Alassane Ouattara.
But Ble Goude, who says he was the victim of a “serious and manifest miscarriage of justice,” is currently without a passport.
“When I was acquitted, I was happy because for me it was the end of an ordeal, but I was very wrong. My ordeal continues today and continues,” Ble Goude said in his statement to the ICC judges, which was passed on to AFP.
“Today, citizen Ble Goude has become a stateless person,” he added.
In July he was invited into the Ivorian embassy in The Hague to start the procedure to apply for a new passport.
Both Gbagbo and Ble Goude have been sentenced in absentia in Ivory Coast to 20 years in prison for crimes related to the deadly violence.
While the government in Abidjan has hinted that Gbagbo’s sentence will be dropped, it has not said anything about Charles Ble Goude’s prison term.
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