The Abidjan Assize Court yesterday acquitted former First Lady of Cote d’Ivoire, Simone Gbagbo after nearly ten months of trial for crimes against humanity during the 2010-2011 post-election crisis.
“The majority jury declares Simone Gbagbo not guilty of the crimes charged, pronounces her acquittal and orders her to be released immediately if she is not detained for other causes,” said Judge Kouadjo Boiqui, President of the Assize Court.
The Ivorian People’s Front (FPI), the party created by former President Laurent Gbagbo, welcomed the decision, describing it as “a way to go for reconciliation”.
“We want and await the release of other political prisoners,” FPI leader Pascal Affi N’Guessan told AFP.
Simone Gbagbo is already serving a 20 years prison sentence since 2015 for “attacking the safety of the State”.
The parties have “60 days to lodge an appeal against this decision,” said the judge, after six hours of deliberation by the six jurors.
The Attorney General of the Abidjan court, Aly Yeo, had imposed a life sentence on Simone Gbagbo, seeing it as an act to seal “national reconciliation” after the bloody post-election crisis.
For him, “reconciliation is above all a matter of justice, for without justice reconciliation is only an illusion” and called on the jury to declare “Ms. Gbagbo guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes” and “sentence her to life imprisonment”.
Mrs Gbagbo, whose last appearance in the court was in November last year, was once again absent on Tuesday during the hearing she described as unfair.