Former Ivorian 1st lady gets 20 years' jail for violence

AP News
Posted: Mar 10, 2015 6:16 AM

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — Former first lady Simone Gbagbo was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years' jail by an Ivory Coast court for her part in post-election violence that killed more than 3,000 people four years ago.

Her lawyer, Rodrigue Dadje, called it a "purely political decision to keep her out of the political game."

But there was jubilation from a prosecutor.

"We have shown that impunity cannot continue in Ivory Coast," said Soungalo Coulibaly, a state lawyer who participated in the legal action.

Former President Laurent Gbagbo awaits trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague for alleged war crimes including rape, murder and persecuting political opponents before his fall from power in 2011.

Ivory Coast refused the international court's order to surrender his wife for trial there on similar charges. Instead, an Ivorian court found her guilty of undermining state security. She had pleaded not guilty.

Simone Gbagbo, 65, who was a powerful politician in her own right, was sentenced early Tuesday after hours of deliberation.

More than 3,000 people were killed after Gbagbo refused to accept his defeat in 2010 elections. Rebels who had divided the country in two in a years-long civil war gave their support to electoral victor Alassane Ouattara, who is president today.

Both sides were accused of atrocities that brought shell- and rocket-fire to the once-glamorous lagoon-side capital, Abidjan.

The Gbagbos were arrested in 2011 after French troops and U.N. peacekeepers backed by pro-Ouattara forces stormed a bunker where they had been holed up at the presidential mansion in Abidjan.