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Sunday, February 25, 2024
NEW YORK, Mar 11 2015 (IPS) - The wife of former president Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast will serve jail time for inciting election violence in the 2011 post-election crisis.
Simone Gbagbo was found guilty this week of “disturbing the peace, forming and organising armed gangs and undermining state security,” according to her defence lawyer, Rodrigue Dadje. The sentence of 20 years was twice as long as prosecutors had sought.
Earlier, it appeared that she would receive a lesser sentence than she would have at the International Criminal Court (ICC) where her husband is now on trial for similar crimes. The Alassane Ouattara government refused to send her to The Hague, saying she would get a fair trial at home.
Mrs Gbagbo, 65, who may also be called by the ICC for suspected crimes against humanity, was tried along with 82 other allies of ex-President Laurent Gbagbo.
“I don’t know exactly what the concrete actions are that I am being accused of,” Mrs. Gbagbo said when the hearing began, insisting also that her husband Laurent Gbagbo was the legitimate winner of a 2010 presidential election that sparked five months of violence.
Scuffles broke out outside the courtroom with her opponents shouting “Murderers!” and her supporters shouting back “Liars!”
The court also ruled that her civil rights will be suspended for a period of 10 years. The former president’s son, Michel Gbagbo, was also convicted and sentenced to five years in jail.
Pascal Affi-N’Guessan, President of Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) party, and one-time prime minister, received an 18-month suspended sentence. Last month his name was officially removed from the U.N.’s sanctions list despite his “obstruction of the peace and reconciliation process, and incitement to hatred and violence.”
Ivory Coast’s brief 2011 civil war was sparked by Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to step down after a disputed election backed by the international community. Violence erupted between supporters of the former president and Alassane Ouattara, now president. Some 3,000 people died in the melee which reached up into rural areas on the north.
The ex-first lady said she had been insulted and humiliated by the prosecution, which, she said, had failed to prove her guilt.
Still, “I’m prepared to forgive. I forgive because, if we don’t forgive, this country will burn, she said.
Mr Gbagbo is currently awaiting trial at the ICC, accused of crimes against humanity for his suspected role in orchestrating the violence.
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