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Has Gbagbo’s acquittal tarnished the tenure of outgoing ICC prosecutor Bensouda?

By Benjamin Roger, Marième Soumaré
Posted on Tuesday, 20 April 2021 00:06

Côte d'Ivoire's former president Laurent Gbagbo appears before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands 31 March 2021. ICC-CPI/Handout via REUTERS

On Wednesday 31 March at The Hague, in the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Nigerian-born judge Chile Eboe-Usuji upheld Laurent Gbagbo’s acquittal.

Accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity alongside Charles Blé Goudé, the former president of Côte d’Ivoire, Laurent Gbagbo, was cleared once and for all by the ICC.

But it is a final blow for the court’s chief prosecutor, Gambia’s Fatou Bensouda, who worked tirelessly on the case. At the end of a decade-long proceeding marked by a string of defeats, and as she prepares to hand over the reins on 16 June to the incoming chief prosecutor elected last February, the British national Karim Khan, Bensouda was unsuccessful in proving the guilt of the court’s most high-profile defendant.