Former Ivory Coast PM Soro appeals against jail term
Former Ivorian prime minister Guillaume Soro has appealed a life sentence handed down last week for undermining state security, one of his attorneys said on Thursday.
“We have filed an appeal against the verdict and taken the case to international jurisdictions, including the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights,” said lawyer Souleymane Diallo.
Soro, 49, was previously right-hand man to President Alassane Ouattara, but the pair fell out in 2019 and he went into exile.
On June 23, a criminal court in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s economic hub, sentenced Soro in absentia to life imprisonment.
Three other defendants, Souleymane Kamagate, Soro’s former head of protocol; Affoussy Bamba, a former minister under his government; and Toure Moussa, his former head of communications, were given 20-year terms.
Diallo said the trial “flouted” decisions of the African Court, a tribunal set up in 2004 by members of the African Union.
The African Court in April 2020 ordered Ivory Coast to suspend its arrest warrant against Soro and release other defendants who were in custody.
But the Ivorian government dismissed the move as a violation of national sovereignty.
Also on June 23, the Abidjan court ordered the dissolution of Soro’s GPS party, which it accused of carrying out “subversive acts”.
Soro was head of an insurgency that controlled the northern half of Ivory Coast in the early 2000s.
He provided crucial military support to Ouattara in his tussle with the then president, Laurent Gbagbo, who was ousted in 2011 after a brutal post-election conflict.
Soro then became Ouattara’s first prime minister and in 2012 was named speaker of the National Assembly.
But the two progressively fell out over what observers say was Soro’s presidential ambitions, busting up in 2019.
Ouattara accused Soro of fomenting a “civilian and military insurrection” against him in December 2019 — an episode that culminated in last week’s verdict.
Soro had already been sentenced in April 2020 to 20 years’ jail to handling embezzled public funds.
That ruling was invoked to bar him from contesting the presidential elections last October.