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Former Ivory Coast First Lady Sentenced to 20 Years

  • VOA News

Ivory Coast's former first lady Simone Gbagbo waves as she arrives at the Court of Justice in Abidjan, Feb. 23, 2015

Ivory Coast's former first lady Simone Gbagbo waves as she arrives at the Court of Justice in Abidjan, Feb. 23, 2015

Ivory Coast's former first lady Simone Gbagbo has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for her role in 2010 and 2011 post-election violence.

A court in Abidjan on Tuesday found Gbagbo guilty of undermining state security and organizing armed gangs in violence that left 3,000 people dead. She and her husband, Laurent Gbagbo, disputed the 2010 presidential election won by Gbagbo's challenger, Alassane Ouattara.

State prosecutor Soungalo Coulibaly said "We have shown that impunity cannot continue in Ivory Coast."

However, Human Rights Watch says the Ivorian government should now hand over Simone Gbagbo to the International Criminal Court, where she faces charges of crimes against humanity.

It also called on the government to prosecute crimes allegedly committed by forces that fought for President Ouatarra during the crisis.

The Ivory Coast government refused an order from the ICC to hand over Simone Gbagbo, saying it would bring to justice to her victims in a domestic court.

Supporters of the Gbagbos said the former first lady's trial was politically motivated. The former first lady's sentence Tuesday was twice the length of the 10-year term requested by state prosecutors.

She was tried along with some 80 other people accused of roles in the violence. They included the former president's son, Michel Gbagbo, was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison.

Laurent Gbagbo is awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court in the Hague for alleged war crimes that include murder, rape and prosecuting political opponents.

Gbagbo led Ivory Coast for more than a decade before being toppled and arrested by French-backed pro-Ouattra forces in April 2011.

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