Abidjan, March 29, 2017(Reuters/NAN)
A court in Ivory Coast on Wednesday acquitted former First Lady Simone Gbagbo of crimes against humanity and war crimes charges linked to her role in a 2011 civil war that killed about 3,000 people, state television announced on Tuesday.
The West African nation had refused to extradite her to face similar charges before the International Criminal Court (ICC) where her husband Laurent is standing trial, choosing instead to try her at home.
NAN reports that prosecutors had demanded a life jail term for the former first lady.
Prosecutor Aly Yeo urged the country’s top criminal court to declare her guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes, and sentence her to life imprisonment.
He described Gbagbo as a shadowy figure who orchestrated attacks on her husband’s opponents.
Yeo alleged that the former first lady headed a crisis cell, “a genuine decision-making body” that allegedly coordinated attacks by armed forces and pro-Gbagbo militias.
He said that the evidence came from documents found in the home of the presidential couple when they were arrested on Sept. 11, 2011.
In one case, she allegedly played an indirect role in the shelling of a market in Abobo, a Ouattara stronghold in the capital, Abidjan, in November 2010.
The former first lady, once dubbed Ivory Coast’s “Iron Lady”, is already serving a 20-year sentence for “endangering state security”.
Her husband is on trial for crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and persecution, having been handed over in November 2011 to the ICC.
The ICC wanted to prosecute his wife, too, and issued a warrant for her arrest, but Ivorian authorities refused to hand her over, insisting she would receive a fair trial at home.
Some 3,000 people died in five months of unrest in the west African republic after Laurent