ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST - Two soldiers in Ivory Coast have been sentenced to 10 years in prison in connection with a deadly al-Qaida attack in the beach resort town of Grand-Bassam last March.
Late Thursday — the same day the trial opened — a military court in Abidjan found Zanga Zoumana Coulibaly and Brice Touré guilty of criminal conspiracy and failing to report a suspected terrorist to police.
The charges against them stemmed from their meeting with Assane Barry, also known as “Sam,” who is suspected of having been the driver of the car that al-Qaida operatives used to carry out the terrorist attack in Grand-Bassam that left 19 people dead.
The soldiers argued they were innocent and said they didn’t know that Barry was involved in terrorist activities. Barry is still awaiting his own trial.
The soldiers' attorney, Raoul Gohi Bi, denounced the sentencing of his clients as illogical, since Barry hasn’t yet been convicted of terrorism activities.
“I’m going to appeal this decision because I want it overturned with the highest rigor by the Supreme Court,” the attorney said.
Ivorian authorities have arrested more than 80 people in connection with terrorist attacks in Mali, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast over the past year. Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb has claimed responsibility for all three attacks.
Some information for this report came from AFP.