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Simone Gbagbo denies involvement with death squads

Simone Gbagbo denies involvement with death squads

Ivory Coast

Simone Gbagbo has denied any contact or involvement with the militia that hunted down supporters of Alassane Ouattara.

She told the court trying her for crimes against humanity over deadly election violence in 2010/2011, that the only battles she ever fought were “oral”.

“I was not in contact with any death squads. I don’t like weapons,” said the woman nicknamed Ivory Coast’s “Iron Lady,” insisting “the fights I conducted were oral.”

The former Ivorian first lady pleaded not guilty and denied all accusations that the prosecution cited on her role in shelling of the Abobo market, a stronghold neighbourhood of Alassane Ouattara.

Lawyers of the civil plaintiff cited the existence of an official document that detailed “a strategy for exterminating a group of individuals”.

Mrs Gbagbo has denied knowledge of such document.

Her trial, which began on May 31, is her second in Ivory Coast where she is already serving a 20-year sentence for “harming state security”.

The decision by ex-president Gbagbo not to recognise Ouattara’s victory in the November 2010 election triggered a crisis which cost the lives of more than 3,000 people within five months.