Ivory Coast court convicts top security officers for ex-leader, first lady with up to 20 years



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ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — Ivory Coast's military court on Tuesday sentenced the former head of security for the ex-first lady to 20 years in prison for acts related to the postelection crisis in 2011.

More than 3,000 people were killed after former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept his defeat in 2010 elections to Alassane Ouattara, who is now president.

Anselme Seka Yapo, head of security for Simone Gbagbo, was accused of killing the driver of a former human rights minister who is an influential member of Ouattara's party. The court convicted him of voluntary homicide and assault and battery. It also expelled him from the gendarmerie and said he could not leave the country for 10 years after his release.

The military court sentenced to five years in prison another senior military officer close to the former president, Jean-Noel Abehi, for desertion. He was arrested in Ghana in 2013 and accused of taking actions to destabilize Ivory Coast's government.

Several Gbagbo supporters have already been sentenced to prison following the postelection crisis.

Justice officials in July also indicted about 20 members of the army that helped bring President Ouattara to power, and others have been summoned to give testimony, according to the International Federation for Human Rights. The court charged two rebel leaders who backed Ouattara.

Gbagbo is awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court.

His wife is appealing her conviction and 20-year sentence handed down by Ivory Coast courts. ICC appeals judges have upheld a ruling that the court can prosecute the former first lady. It is unclear if authorities will hand her over.

A Human Rights Watch report released Tuesday said the ICC's focus on pro-Gbagbo forces has polarized opinion in Ivory Coast about the international court.

ICC prosecutors have said it will expand its investigations to all sides involved in the violence.

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