Ivory Coast says ex first lady Gbagbo getting 'fair trial'
11 May 2016, 12:17
Abidjan - A prosecutor in the trial of Ivory Coast's
former first lady Simone Gbagbo for crimes against humanity said on Tuesday it
was fair and transparent, after the defence said the jury was biased.
A trial date of May 31 was announced on Monday during a
hearing in the financial capital Abidjan which took place several weeks after a
court rejected her appeal to have the case dropped.
Nicknamed the "Iron Lady", the wife of
ex-president Laurent Gbagbo is already serving a 20-year sentence after being
convicted last year of "attacking state authority" in connection with
sweeping violence after the 2010 election that her husband lost to the
country's current leader Alassane Ouattara. The unrest left more than 3 000
At Monday's hearing, her lawyers denounced the
composition of the jury, saying it was stacked against their client, who is
accused of having people from the mainly Muslim north killed, as most jurors
are from the north of the country.
The prosecutor of Abidjan, Aly Yeo, said in a statement
sent to AFP that Simone Gbagbo would receive a fair trial.
"The trial will be held before a legally constituted
court with complete transparency following the procedures specified in the law,"
he said in the statement.
He added that the jurors had been chosen for their
"integrity and honesty", and that there was no basis for claiming
jurors were selected on the basis of "ethnic or regional affiliation”.
He also noted that Ivory Coast had chosen to try suspected
war criminals in national courts rather than before the International Criminal
Tribunal (ICC) in The Hague.
Consequently, Simone Gbagbo, 66, has not been transferred
there to face ICC accusations of a key role in the 2010 post-election unrest.
Laurent Gbagbo however is on trial at the ICC for war
crimes also related to the unrest that followed his refusing to step down after
Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa producer, has
struggled to return to normalcy after years of civil war, which effectively
divided the country between the mainly Christian south and the largely Muslim
Ouattara finally took power in 2011 with help from former
colonial ruler France and the arrest of the Gbagbos.
The 74-year-old was re-elected to a five-year term in
And in a further sign of the west African country
bouncing back from turmoil, the UN Security Council last month lifted the
remaining sanctions on Ivory Coast and said it would shut down its peacekeeping
mission there next year.