Ex-Côte d’Ivoire first lady Simone Gbagbo acquitted of war crimes

A court in Côte d’Ivoire cleared former first lady Simone Gbagbo of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Gbagbo was acquitted on Tuesday of crimes against humanity and war crimes charges, linked to her role in the Côte d’Ivoire’s civil war.

Some 3 000 people were killed after Gbagbo’s huband, ex-president Laurent Gbagbo, refused to accept electoral defeat in 2010 to current president Alassane Ouattara.

Prosecutors had sought a life sentence, accusing Simone Gbagbo of heading a committee that organized attacks on opponents of her husband, and distributing arms to militias that backed him.

“After her spouse came to power, she started to impose herself as the real head of Ivory Coast, the army, the police and gendarmerie,” said prosecutor Aly Yeo.

The charges Simone Gbagbo was cleared of were similar to what the International Criminal Court (ICC) had wished to prosecute in The Hague. But the Côte d’Ivoire refused to extradite her and opted instead to try her at home.

Laurent Gbagbo is on trial in The Hague for crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and persecution.

Though Simone Gbagbo was acquitted on Tuesday, she must still serve a 20-year sentence after being found guilty in March 2015 of offenses against the state.

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