Former Ivory Coast first lady goes on trial

Simone Gbagbo is charged with “undermining state security” over her alleged role in 2010 post-election violence.

Simone Gbagbo has been under house arrest in northern Ivory Coast since she was arrested in 2011 [AFP]

The former first lady of the Ivory Coast, Simone Gbagbo, has gone on trial for her alleged role in post-election violence in 2010.

The trial of the 65-year-old and 82 civilian and military supporters of her husband, former president Laurent Gbagbo, began under heavy security on Friday and was broadcast on radio.

“If she is found guilty, she will get 20 years to life because we are talking about a crime against state security,” said prosecutor Soungalo Coulibaly.

The post-election violence erupted in Abidjan after Gbagbo refused to concede power to his rival Alassane Ouattara, who was declared the winner of the polls.

About 3,000 people died in the violence that was widely viewed as avoidable had Gbagbo stepped down. 

He was eventually forced from power in 2011 by rebels and an international military force led by France.

Ivory Coast had earlier refused a request to hand over Simone Gbagbo to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where her husband is being held, arguing she should be tried in a domestic court.

Laurent Gbagbo and an associate, Charles Ble Goude, are being held in the Netherlands pending trial at the ICC on charges including crimes against humanity.

Since she was arrested in 2011, the former first lady has been under house arrest in northern Ivory Coast. She was brought to the commercial capital Abidjan this month ahead of her trial.

Source: News Agencies