Today, March 31, 2021, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or “Court”) delivered its judgment on the Prosecutor’s appeal against the decision of Trial Chamber I of January 15, 2019. , who had acquitted, by majority, Mr. Gbagbo and Mr. Blé Goudé of all charges of crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Côte d’Ivoire in 2010 and 2011. The Appeals Chamber confirmed, by a majority, Judge Ibáñez and Judge Bossa dissenting, the decision of the Trial Chamber.
The acquittal of MM. Gbagbo and Blé Goudé is now final. The Appeals Chamber also revoked all the conditions for the release of MM. Gbagbo and Blé Goudé and asked the ICC Registrar to make arrangements for the safe transfer of MM. Gbagbo and Blé Goudé to one or more host States.
At today’s hearing, Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji, President of the Court of Appeal, read a summary of the judgment in open court in the presence of MM. Gbagbo and Blé Goudé. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the judgment was delivered on a partially virtual basis, with the participation of either the seat of the Court or separate locations outside the Court.
In its judgment, the Appeals Chamber rejected, by a majority, the two grounds of appeal of the Prosecutor, namely that the decision of the Trial Chamber to acquit Mr. Gbagbo and Mr. Blé Goudé (i) breached statutory requirements and (ii) was taken without properly articulating and consistently applying a clearly defined standard of proof and its approach to assessing the sufficiency of evidence. The Appeals Chamber concluded, among other things, that while trial chambers should ideally deliver the verdict and reasons simultaneously, a delay between the delivery of a verdict and its reasons may not necessarily invalidate a trial as a whole. On the contrary, such a separation may be clearly justified in the particular circumstances of a case; most evident in this regard is when the liberty of an acquitted accused is at stake. The Appeals Chamber also rejected the argument that the two judges of the Trial Chamber who formed the majority did not articulated and consistently applied the standard of proof. The Appeals Chamber noted in this regard that the two judges considered that the evidence against the two accused was “exceptionally weak”.
ICC judge Chile Eboe-Osuji, presiding judge of this appeal, reading the summary of the judgment under appeal in the Gbagbo and Blé Goudé case © ICC-CPI
The judgment of the Appeals Chamber was delivered by majority, Judge Ibáñez and Judge Bossa dissenting. Judge Eboe-Osuji appended a separate concurring opinion on various aspects of the appeal. Judge Morrison and Judge Hofmański also each appended separate concurring opinions on a specific issue.
Judge Ibáñez and Judge Bossa have attached their dissenting opinions, in which they explained in detail why they disagree with the Appeals Chamber’s decision to uphold the Trial Chamber’s acquittal decision . They consider that the decision of the Trial Chamber was materially affected by serious errors and would therefore have upheld the Prosecutor’s appeal and ordered a new trial of Messrs. Gbagbo and Blé Goudé.
Summary of the judgment read to the Court: English
Questions and Answers on the Appeal Judgment: English; French
Photographs of the audience
YouTube (for viewing): English; French
Video (MPEG-4) for viewing and downloading: English; French
Audio (MPEG-3) for download: English; French
Background: The trial in this case began on January 28, 2016. On January 15, 2019, Trial Chamber I, by majority, acquitted Mr. Laurent Gbagbo and Mr. Charles Blé Goudé of all charges of crimes against the humanity allegedly committed in Côte d’Ivoire in 2010 and 2011. On February 1, 2019, the Appeals Chamber set the conditions to be imposed on MM. Gbagbo and Blé Goudé upon their release in a State willing to accept them on its territory and willing and able to enforce the conditions set by the Chamber. Mr. Gbagbo and Mr. Blé Goudé are no longer in the ICC detention center after their conditional release.
On July 16, 2019, Trial Chamber I filed in writing the full reasons for the acquittal of Messrs. Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé. On September 16, 2019, the Prosecutor filed an appeal against this decision. From 22 to 24 June 2020, the Appeals Chamber held hearings to hear the submissions of the Parties and Participants on the Prosecutor’s appeal against the acquittal decision.