Former First Lady of Ivory Coast Acquitted of War Crimes

The prosecution accused Simone Gbagbo of orchestrating attacks on her husband’s opponents [File: Issouf Sanago/AFP]
An Ivory Coast court has acquitted the country’s former first lady Simone Gbagbo of war crimes in a trial that rights groups described as marred.

Gbagbo faced charges for her role in the 2010 postelection crisis, in which her husband, Laurent, refused to hand over power to President Alassane Ouattara. More than 3,000 people died and some 150 women were raped during the crisis.

State Prosecutor Aly Yeo said Gbagbo was part of a group that orchestrated attacks against opposition supporters. The prosecution called for a life sentence, but the jury unanimously voted to free Gbagbo.

“I’m disappointed and sad for the victims today,” said Issiaka Diaby, president of the victims association. “Only international justice can fight against impunity, it seems.”

Gbagbo’s husband is on trial for crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. The court also issued a warrant for her arrest, but officials failed to hand her over and tried her at the home court instead. Gbagbo already received a 20-year sentence in 2015 for offenses against the state.

“Since the start of the trial, we proclaimed her innocence,” Mathruin Dirabou, Gbagbo’s lawyer, told Reuters. “The prosecution’s case against her was empty.”

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