A former top Ivory Coast military officer jailed for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government has been released. General Lanssana Palenfo has been in prison since his arrest last September.
General Palenfo, who was second in command in Ivory Coast's now-deposed military government, was arrested last year when then-military ruler, General Robert Guei, accused him of plotting an attack on his house.
General Palenfo had close ties to opposition leader Alassane Ouattara, whose exclusion from presidential and legislative elections last year sparked a political crisis that continues to haunt the country.
Ivory Coast's supreme court this week overturned the treason conviction of General Palenfo, and he was released from prison on Wednesday. The general had consistently denied the charges.
General Palenfo tells VOA he holds no grudges against former military ruler General Robert Guei, or civilian President Laurent Gbagbo, even though the current leader allowed prosecutors to continue pressing their charges against him after General Guei was driven from power in October. "The decision made by the supreme court has vindicated me," General Palenfo says. "It has shown that everything that I was accused of was untrue. Unfortunately, it has taken eight or nine months of my life, but I think of it as an offering for reconciliation in our country."
Following political violence that killed hundreds of people last year, the Gbagbo government has been trying to reconcile Ouattara supporters, members of the former military regime and supporters of the current government.
The government is under pressure from the international community to resolve the political crisis and improve the country's human rights record.