Ivory Coast to try ex-first lady at home

2013-09-21 11:35
Simone, the wife of Laurent Gbagbo. (File, AFP)

Simone, the wife of Laurent Gbagbo. (File, AFP)

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Abidjan - Ivory Coast said on Friday it would not transfer former first lady Simone Gbagbo to the International Criminal Court in the Hague, but would try her at home instead.

The decision came 18 months after the ICC issued a warrant for her arrest over suspected crimes against humanity, charges which her husband and former president Laurent Gbagbo is also facing.

Ivory Coast's cabinet decided to file a "motion to dismiss" the warrant. Her husband also awaits trial in The Hague over months of deadly violence that followed 2010 polls.

Fair trial

"The decision of the cabinet aims to have Mrs Gbagbo brought to trial... by Ivorian courts whose good reputation has been restored and which can hold a fair trial that will guarantee the rights of the defence," said a government statement.

The government will inform the ICC of its decision shortly, the statement added.

Ivory Coast turned over Laurent Gbagbo to the ICC in late 2011 but now seems inclined to try other suspects in the 2010-11 unrest under its own jurisdiction.

"If we had the slightest doubt about the fairness of the Ivorian legal system, we would have extradited her to the Netherlands," government spokesperson Bruno Kone told AFP.

The former president's Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) party welcomed the decision, expressing hope that it was "made with the sole aim of delivering... justice that is to the benefit of all."

But the former first lady's lawyer, Habiba Toure, expressed concerns about her client's "arbitrary and unjustified detention."

The lawyer said Simone Gbagbo was suffering from "serious health problems" and could not be treated properly under detention.

Simone Gbagbo was detained at Odienne in the country's northwest after the post-election crisis caused by her husband's refusal to acknowledge his defeat in the November 2010 presidential elections.

The post-poll violence left around 3 000 people dead in the west African country, which is the world's number one cocoa producer.

Read more on:    simone gbagbo  |  laurent gbagbo  |  ivory coast  |  west africa

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