Ivory Coast’s former first lady cleared of war crimes

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Ivory Coast's former first lady Simone Gbagbo (R), who is accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes for her alleged role in a 2011 civil war, arrives in a domestic court in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, May 31, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney

ABIDJAN  – A court in Ivory Coast acquitted former First Lady Simone Gbagbo of crimes against humanity and war crimes charges linked to her role in a 2011 civil war that killed about 3,000 people, state television announced on Tuesday.

The trial, the West African nation’s first for crimes against humanity, was held in an Ivorian court after the government rejected her extradition to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

“We are happy. Since the start of the trial we proclaimed her innocence. The prosecution’s case against her was empty,” Gbagbo’s lawyer, Mathurin Dirabou, told Reuters after the verdict was announced.

Simone Gbagbo had already been tried and convicted in March 2015 of offences against the state and sentenced to 20 years in prison, jail term that was upheld on appeal this month.

Prosecutors in her war crimes trial alleged she was part of a small group of party officials from Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) which planned violence against supporters of Alassane Ouattara, who is now president, to stop him taking power.

Her husband, ex-president Laurent Gbagbo, is standing trial before the ICC on similar charges connected to the brief conflict, which was sparked by his refusal to accept defeat to Ouattara in a 2010 presidential run-off election.

Reuters

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