A criminal court in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire ruled against Simone Gbagbo today for her role in sponsoring death squads, arming gangs, and promoting public disorder in the aftermath of the disputed presidential elections in 2010.
The former first lady was arrested when a multi-national United Nations force stormed the Presidential Palace in 2011 and reportedly discovered Simone and her husband President Laurent Gbagbo hiding in the basement.
Former President Gbagbo was arrested and is on trial for Crimes Against Humanity at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands. The ICC originally wanted to place Simone Gbagbo on trial as well, but the government of Cote d’Ivoire denied their request in order to try her domestically.
Human Rights Watch, a New York City based organization, stated that justice has not been served because “[Simone] Gbagbo was convicted only of crimes against the Ivoirian state, not for the killings, rape and crimes against humanity for which she is to be tried by the ICC.”
Mrs. Gbagbo’s conviction comes as nearly 80 other people responsible for inciting post-election violence are in trial, including the Gbagbo’s son Michel Gbagbo who was sentenced to 5 years in prison on Tuesday.
Mrs. Gbagbo denied claims that she personally distributed arms to groups operating in the capital Abidjan during the five months of post-election violence. After the verdict was read she said, “I’m prepared to forgive. I forgive because, if we don’t forgive, this country will burn.”
Supporters of the Gbagbos argue that these trials—in Abidjan and The Hague—are politicized and intended to punish the opponents of Alassane Ouattara, who became president after the five month conflict
– Sahara Reporters