Judges deliver shock acquittal of former Ivory Coast president on crimes against humanity charges
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has acquitted former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo over post-electoral violence in the West African nation in a stunning blow to the war crimes tribunal in The Hague.
Judges ordered the immediate release of the 73-year-old deposed strongman, the first head of state to stand trial at the ICC, and his right-hand man Charles Blé Goudé.
They hugged each other as supporters cheered wildly and clapped in the public gallery, prompting head judge Cuno Tarfusser to order them to sit down and "behave".
The pair faced charges of crimes against humanity over the 2010-2011 bloodshed in which around 3,000 people were killed.
Prosecutors alleged Mr Gbagbo and Mr Blé Goudé (47) clung to power "by all means" but the judges said there was no evidence of a "common plan" to foment violence.