Gbagbo Allowed to Plead for Acquittal; the ICC Makes Some Clarifications

In a June 4, 2018 decision, Trial Chamber I provided a schedule for further proceedings in the Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé trial. Joined by our editorial staff, the spokesperson of the International Criminal Court clarified this decision.

The decision of the judges of Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has been expected for several weeks, has been made. We now know the next steps for the trial procedure for the Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé case.

Thus, to the satisfaction of the defense, the two accused are allowed to file “no case to answer” motions. The decision signed the Italian Judge Cuno Tarfusser says:

Accordingly, the Chamber believes that, at this stage, the most appropriate and efficient way to proceed in light of its statutory duties is to authorise the Defence to make concise and focused submissions on the specific factual issues for which, in their view, the evidence presented is insufficient to sustain a conviction and in respect of which, accordingly, a full or partial judgment of acquittal would be warranted. More specifically, the Defence are invited to explain why there is insufficient evidence which could reasonably support a conviction. In order not to defeat their purpose, and in light of the stage reached by these proceedings, such submissions must be filed and resolved expeditiously.

According to this decision, the defense teams of Gbagbo and Blé Goudé have until July 20, 2018 to file “submissions addressing the issues for which, in their view, the evidence presented by the Prosecutor is not sufficient to sustain a conviction.”

The prosecutor and the legal representative of the victims must file their submissions in response by August 27, 2018.

Judge Tarfusser also announced the holding of a public hearing on September 10. During this hearing, the judge said, “[P]arties and participants will be allowed to further illustrate or complete their submissions, as well as to respond to each other’s submissions and to any questions the Chamber may have.”

The ICC Explains

Joined by Citizen Observer via email, Fadi El-Abdallah, the court’s spokesperson explained this decision. According to him, this was not the first time the ICC was giving such an authorization as the one given to the defense teams of the two accused. The ICC had made a similar ruling in the situation in Kenya.

The ICC spokesperson explained:

The Defense Counsels in this case both announced that they intend to file a “No case to answer” motion. “No case to answer” is a term used in Common Law and ICC legal systems, whereby an accused person may be acquitted of one or all of the charges against him, once the Prosecutor has presented his evidence, without having to present his entire defense. One could also say “Motion for acquittal.” This has been used at the ICC before, for example in the case against Mr. Ruto and Mr. Sang. Thus, it will be up to the judges to consider whether the evidence presented by the Prosecutor would be sufficient to support a conviction.


Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé are charged with four counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, and other inhumane acts, or – in the alternative – attempted murder and persecution. The accused allegedly committed these crimes during post-electoral violence in Côte d’Ivoire between December 16, 2010 and April 12, 2011.

This summary comes from Observateur Citoyen, which offers monitoring and commentary on the ICC’s proceedings arising from the post-election violence that occurred in Cote d’Ivoire in 2010-2011. It has been translated into English for use on International Justice Monitor.