International Criminal Court judges acquitted former Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo of all war crimes charges and ordered his immediate release. Picture: Reuters

The Hague - The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Wednesday ordered the immediate release of Ivory Coast's former president Laurent Gbagbo, a day after acquitting him of charges of crimes against humanity.

Gbagbo walked free after seven years in prison. The 73-year-old former politician was acquitted due to lack of evidence.

The court, based in The Hague, rejected a demand by the prosecution to keep Gbagbo imprisoned pending a possible appeal of the verdict.

Gbagbo had been charged with human rights violations committed after the West African nation's disputed 2010 presidential election, which saw 3,000 people killed and about half a million others displaced.

Gbagbo, who said the charges against him had been politically motivated, has been defending himself before the ICC since 2016.

He was the first former head of state to have been tried by the ICC.

Gbagbo's co-defendant, former youth minister Charles Ble Goude, 47, was also acquitted of all charges on Tuesday.

dpa