The International Criminal Court has acquitted and ordered the immediate release of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo over post-electoral violence in the West African nation.
His right-hand man, Charles Ble Goude, was also acquitted.
Gbagbo is the first head of state to stand trial at the ICC, and his right-hand man Charles Ble Goude.
Delivering the judgement on Tuesday, head judge Cuno Tarfusser said: “The chamber by majority hereby decides that the prosecution has failed to satisfy the burden of proof to the requisite standard”.
He added that the court “grants the defence motions for acquittal for all charges for Mr Laurent Gbagbo and Mr Charles Ble Goude and orders the immediate release of both accused.”
Gbagbo, 73 and Goude, 47, each faced four charges of crimes against humanity over the 2010-2011 bloodshed in which around 3,000 Ivoriens were killed.
According to prosecutors, Gbagbo and Ble Goude clung to power “by all means” after he was narrowly defeated by his bitter rival and now president Alassane Outtara in the elections.
But the judges said there was no evidence of a “common plan” to cause violence.
Their release was suspended until Wednesday to give the prosecution time to respond to the shock judgment which has dealt a big blow to the war crimes tribunal at The Hague.