For­mer First Lady on trial

Lesotho Times - - Africa -

ABID­JAN — Ivory Coast’s for­mer first lady Si­mone Gbagbo went on trial in Abid­jan on Fri­day for her al­leged role in steal­ing an elec­tion her hus­band lost in 2010 and re­sist­ing ef­forts to dis­lodge him in a civil war that fol­lowed.

The trial of Gbagbo and 82 other civil­ians and sol­diers is the most im­por­tant of its kind in the coun­try since Lau­rent Gbagbo was driven from the pres­i­dency in April 2011 and re­placed by the win­ner of the Oc­to­ber 2010 vote, Alas­sane Ou­at­tara.

The trial be­fore nine ju­rors be­gan un­der heavy se­cu­rity and was be­ing widely fol­lowed by Ivo­rians via ra­dio broad­casts, wit­nesses said. It is ex­pected to last at least a month, ac­cord­ing to lawyers.

“If she is found guilty, she will get 20 years to life be­cause we are talk­ing about a crime against state se­cu­rity,” said pros­e­cu­tor Soun­galo Coulibaly.

Ivory Coast had ear­lier re­fused a re­quest to hand over Si­mone Gbagbo to the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court in The Hague, where her hus­band is be­ing held, ar­gu­ing she should be tried in a do­mes­tic court.

Lau­rent Gbagbo and an as­so­ciate, Charles Ble Goude, are be­ing held in the Nether­lands pending trial at the ICC on charges in­clud­ing crimes against hu­man­ity.

Ac­cu­sa­tions against all three stem from events that fol­lowed 2010 elec­tions. Gbagbo lost to Ou­at­tara but de­clared him­self the win­ner and was only driven out by rebels and an in­ter­na­tional mil­i­tary force led by France. Some 3,000 peo­ple died in the war that was widely viewed as avoid­able had Gbagbo stepped down. Si­mone Gbagbo gained a rep­u­ta­tion dur­ing her hus­band’s decade in power as an in­flu­en­tial hard­liner who ral­lied op­po­si­tion to the coun­try’s north­ern rebels.

Since the war, the for­mer first lady has been un­der house ar­rest in north­ern Ivory Coast. She was brought to the com­mer­cial cap­i­tal Abid­jan this month ahead of her trial. — Reuters

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