Simone Gbagbo trial adjourned again over witness row

2016-11-03 06:58
Simone Gbagbo. (File: AFP)

Simone Gbagbo. (File: AFP)

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Abidjan - Ivory Coast's former first lady Simone Gbagbo's trial for crimes against humanity was adjourned on Wednesday after her lawyers threatened to walk out over the failure of high-profile witnesses to attend.

The trial was suspended until Monday while judge Boiqui Kouadjo insisted the high-profile witnesses -- including parliament speaker Guillaume Soro, former prime minister Jeannot Kouadio Ahoussou and former army chief Philippe Mangou - will appear on November 16.

The trial had already been suspended a week ago when Gbagbo refused to attend due to a no-show by the witnesses her lawyers had called to testify.

"If we want the trial to proceed, those involved must attend," said Gbagbo lawyer Ange Rodrigue Dadje.

Judge Kouadjo said some anonymous witnesses would appear on Monday, after which the high-profile figures would be heard on November 16.

"It is with regret that we acknowledge that the witnesses did not receive their notices to attend court," said Kouadjo, after an hour of debate.

State security 

The delay was caused in part by a row over whose responsibility it is to ensure the witnesses appear before the court.

Simone Gbagbo is the wife of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo, who was forced from power in 2011 by current incumbent Alassane Ouattara, who had won presidential elections five months previously - the results of which his predecessor rejected.

Simone Gbagbo's trial began on May 31. She is accused of involvement in the shelling of Abobo, a northern suburb of the capital Abidjan, which was a Ouattara stronghold.

She is also accused of being a member of a "crisis cell" that allegedly coordinated attacks by the armed forces and militias in support of Gbagbo.

She is already serving a 20-year sentence for "endangering state security".

Deadly violence erupted in the cocoa bean-rich west African republic after Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede defeat to Ouattara following the November 2010 election, with more than 3 000 people subsequently killed in the five months of bloodshed that followed.

Laurent Gbagbo, who was eventually arrested by forces loyal to Ouattara in April 2011, is currently on trial before the International Criminal Court in The Hague accused of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and persecution.

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

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