News / Africa

Ivory Coast Soldiers On Trial at Military Court

Soldiers patrol the area after an attack in Dabou, around 50 km (30 miles) west of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Aug. 16, 2012.
Soldiers patrol the area after an attack in Dabou, around 50 km (30 miles) west of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Aug. 16, 2012.
Ivory Coast’s military tribunal has begun trying more than 30 soldiers for crimes including assault and murder.  Critics have been accusing the government of President Alassane Ouattara of shielding his military backers from the law.

The tribunal announced this week that a total of 33 soldiers would soon be brought to trial.

The proceedings Thursday concerned a December 2011 incident in which soldiers allegedly opened fire on a crowd of demonstrators in the central town of Vavoua.  The U.N. independent expert on human rights in Ivory Coast said five people died in the shooting.

The demonstrators had been protesting the death of a young man named Fofana Adama, who had been arrested by the army.  The U.N. expert said Adama died as a result of mistreatment by government forces.

Lieutenant Charles Awou Akodia, the tribunal’s judicial clerk, laid out the details of the charges against the seven suspects in the case.

He says the men have been charged with manslaughter, murder and assault. 

“The charge sheet indicates that after Fofana Adama died of his injuries in a private clinic, the demonstrators began to assemble and the situation deteriorated quickly, becoming uncontrollable,” he said. “Calm only returned after the intervention of U.N. forces and military forces from nearby towns.”

The launch of the proceedings came two years to the day after former President Laurent Gbagbo was arrested from his Abidjan bunker, ending a power struggle between him and current President Ouattara.  Gbagbo's refusal to leave office after losing the November 2010 presidential runoff vote sparked five months of violence that claimed at least 3,000 lives.

Since the end of the crisis, more than 150 Gbagbo supporters have been charged with crimes related to the violence, according to Human Rights Watch.

In recent months, Ivory Coast's judiciary has come under fire for not pursuing cases against Ouattara’s military backers.  No pro-Ouattara forces have been charged in connection with the violence, despite widespread evidence of human rights abuses on both sides.

The current military is composed mainly of fighters who backed Ouattara.

All of the cases the military tribunal plans to try in the coming weeks concern crimes that were committed after the conflict ended.

Matt Wells, West Africa researcher for Human Rights Watch, said the new cases are a positive development, but called for more progress in pursuing what he called “politically sensitive” cases - including crimes committed during the post-election violence as well as more recent alleged abuses.

"It is a positive sign in terms of the government starting to address impunity in the military - particularly the Vavoua incident, in which soldiers appeared to have used excessive force against a demonstration," said Wells. "At the same time, the government has yet to make progress on any of the sensitive cases that touch the military.  It is crucial that this really be the first step toward justice for all of the crimes that have been committed by soldiers over the last few years. "

The military tribunal has said cases involving alleged extortion by soldiers at roadblocks, a common complaint throughout the country, will be heard beginning in June.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More