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I. Coast soldiers face trial Monday for allegedly killing women


Coat_of_arms_of_Ivory_Coast.svgEight Ivory Coast soldiers will face a court martial on Monday charged with the murder of seven women demonstrators during post-electoral conflict in 2011, the military prosecutor said.

“Major Gnahoua Dablet and seven other soldiers will be tried for their suspected involvement in the slaughter of seven women in Abobo,” a densely populated part of the commercial capital Abidjan, military prosecutor Ange Kessi told AFP on Friday.

In a long-stalled presidential poll in November 2010, residents of Abobo voted massively for Alassane Ouattara, who challenged the incumbent Laurent Gbagbo and was declared winner by the Electoral Commission.

However, Gbagbo refused to admit defeat in the face of international backing for Ouattara and turned to his supporters in the Constitutional Council, who backed him. The standoff led to five months of civil warfare, which claimed some 3,000 lives before Gbagbo was arrested.

On March 3, 2011, a pro-Ouattara demonstration by women was “crushed in blood with disproportionate methods, including battle tanks, used by militias and mercenaries in the pay of Mr Laurent Gbagbo,” an opposition statement said at the time.

The UN mission in the deeply troubled and divided country, ONUCI, declared that the repression of the demonstration by Gbagbo’s Defence and Security Forces had claimed seven lives. The “slaughter of the women of Abobo” also led to protests abroad, some linked to International Women’s Day, which fell five days later.

The military tribunal in Abidjan on Thursday started hearings stemming from the post-electoral violence with the trial of 14 soldiers from Gbagbo’s guard unit who were accused of defying orders, but proceedings were swiftly adjourned until next week when the bench acknowledged procedural flaws.

In all, more than 30 soldiers are due to face trial for alleged crimes and offences committed during the five-month crisis, according to the prosecutor’s office.

Gbagbo was in 2011 transferred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where he faces trial for crimes against humanity.

The ICC prosector also wants his wife Simone to be tried by the world’s first permanent war crimes court, but Ivorian authorities refused to extradite her, choosing to have her brought to justice on home soil.

Simone Gbagbo was on Tuesday sentenced to 20 years in jail for “undermining state security” during the post-electoral conflict, in which she was notably convicted of organising armed gangs.

At the time the seven women were slain in Abobo, Simone Gbagbo still happened to be the member of parliament for the district, elected in 2000 as a representative of the Ivorian Popular Front.

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