The International Criminal Court has ordered former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and his top aide to remain in custody, even after judges acquitted them of crimes against humanity.
Prosecutors immediately appealed Tuesday’s verdict and argued the pair may refuse to return to The Hague for trial if the not-guilty verdict is overturned.
The three-judge panel called the prosecution’s case “exceptionally weak.”
Gbagbo and Charles Ble Goude had been on trial for alleged crimes against humanity stemming from the violence in Ivory Coast after the 2010 election.
Gbagbo lost to his bitter rival, current President Alassane Outtara, but refused to concede. The standoff led to violence that killed 3,000 people and sent thousands more fleeing the country for their lives.
Opponents and prosecutors blame Gbagbo and Ble Goude for the deadly unrest. But the three-judge panel ruled Tuesday there was not enough evidence of responsibility to convict the pair.
Gbagbo’s daughter told reporters her father plans to return to Ivory Coast when he is released.
But if he goes back, he faces 20 years in prison on charges of misusing funds from a West African central bank.
An Ivorian court convicted him in absentia last year, but the government has not said whether it will enforce the sentence.