IVORY COAST: Former First Lady goes on Trial for War Crimes

ABIDJAN MAY 31, 2016 (CISA) – Ivory Coast’s former first lady, Simone Gbagbo, went on trial today, accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes for her alleged role in the country’s 2011 civil war.

The court case is taking place in Ivory Coast following the government’s rejection of her extradition to international court in The Hague, Reuters reported.

Her husband, ex-president Laurent Gbagbo, is already before the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges linked to the conflict, which was sparked by his refusal to accept defeat to Alassane Ouattara in a run-off election in 2010. Around 3,000 people died in the violence.

According to the prosecution, the former first lady was part of an inner circle of her husband’s key backers that planned violence against Ouattara’s supporters as a means of maintaining Gbagbo in power.

In an earlier trial, she was convicted in March 2015 of offences against the state and given 20 years in prison, a sentence that was upheld on appeal this month.

However, despite the conviction, rights campaigners and observers criticised the trial for failing to provide evidence linking her and other political leaders to violence by their supporters.

Human rights groups including the International Federation for Human Rights, which was representing victims in the domestic case against Simone Gbagbo, announced this week that it was withdrawing its participation in the war crimes trial.

They claimed the prosecution’s investigation had been rushed in order to respond to the ICC warrant and the trial would not give victims a full picture of the Gbagbo administration’s orchestration of the post-election violence.

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