Ivory Coast con­victs ex-leader’s top se­cu­rity of­fi­cers

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY ISI­DORE KOUA­DIO

Ivory Coast’s mil­i­tary court on Tues­day sen­tenced the for­mer head of se­cu­rity for the ex-first lady to 20 years in prison for acts re­lated to the post­elec­tion cri­sis in 2011.

More than 3,000 peo­ple were killed af­ter for­mer Pres­i­dent Lau­rent Gbagbo re­fused to ac­cept his de­feat in 2010 elec­tions to Alas­sane Ou­at­tara, who is now pres­i­dent.

Anselme Seka Yapo, head of se­cu­rity for Si­mone Gbagbo, was ac­cused of killing the driver of a for­mer hu­man rights min­is­ter who is an in­flu­en­tial mem­ber of Ou­at­tara’s party. The court con­victed him of vol­un­tary homi­cide and as­sault and bat­tery. It also ex­pelled him from the gen­darmerie and said he could not leave the coun­try for 10 years af­ter his re­lease.

The mil­i­tary court sen­tenced to five years in prison another se­nior mil­i­tary of­fi­cer close to the for­mer pres­i­dent, Jean-Noel Abehi, for de­ser­tion. He was ar­rested in Ghana in 2013 and ac­cused of tak­ing ac­tions to desta­bi­lize Ivory Coast’s gov­ern­ment.

Sev­eral Gbagbo sup­port­ers have al­ready been sen­tenced to prison fol­low­ing the post­elec­tion cri­sis.

Jus­tice of­fi­cials in July also in­dicted about 20 mem­bers of the army that helped bring Pres­i­dent Ou­at­tara to power, and oth­ers have been sum­moned to give tes­ti­mony, ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion for Hu­man Rights. The court charged two rebel lead­ers who backed Ou­at­tara.

Gbagbo is await­ing trial at the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court.

His wife is ap­peal­ing her con­vic­tion and 20- year sen­tence handed down by Ivory Coast courts. In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court (ICC) ap­peals judges have up­held a rul­ing that the court can pros­e­cute the for­mer first lady. It is un­clear if author­i­ties will hand her over.

A Hu­man Rights Watch re­port re­leased Tues­day said the ICC’s fo­cus on pro-Gbagbo forces has po­lar­ized opin­ion in Ivory Coast about the in­ter­na­tional court.

ICC pros­e­cu­tors have said it will ex­pand its in­ves­ti­ga­tions to all sides in­volved in the vi­o­lence.

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