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Trial in absentia: Former Ivorian PM Guillaume Soro proceedings begin

Ivory Coast former rebel leader and Prime Minister Guillaume Soro answers journalists' questions after addressing a press conference on September 17, 2020 in a Hotel in Paris.   -  
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Ivory Coast

The trial of former rebel leader and former Ivorian Prime Minister Guillaume Soro and about twenty of his supporters opened Wednesday in Abidjan.

The trial took place in the absence of the former Prime Minister who has been living in exile abroad for two years.

The first half-day hearing was a procedural battle between the prosecution and the defense, with the latter denouncing gross breaches of procedure and obtaining a one-week postponement to have access to documents in the case file that it said it did not have.

The trial is due to resume on 26 May.

According to the prosecution, the former president of the National Assembly together with his supporters conspired and created a "civil and military insurgency" to overthrow the government during his to Côte d'Ivoire in December 2019, ten months before the presidential election.

The hearing opened at around 2 pm (local and GMT), an hour late after dozens of people were unable to enter the small courtroom. 

Guillaume Soro, 49, is accused of "conspiracy", "attempt to undermine the authority of the state" as well as "dissemination and publication of false news undermining authority and their functioning.

Guiilaume Soro, was once an ally of President Allassane Ouattara. He commanded a rebel force that backed the current president in his fight against President Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to accept he had lost the 2010 elections.