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Ivory Coast's former first lady acquitted of crimes against humanity

An Ivory Coast court on Tuesday acquitted former first lady Simone Gbagbo for war crimes and crimes against humanity after a trial on her alleged role in post-election abuses that led to the deaths of thousands.

Judge Kouadio Bouatchi said a jury unanimously voted to free Mrs Gbagbo.

The prosecution had asked for a life sentence, saying she participated on a committee that organised abuses against supporters of her husband's opponent after the 2010 election.

More than 3,000 people were killed after former president Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept defeat to current President Alassane Ouattara.

Simone Gbagbo, however, still must serve 20 years in prison after being found guilty in 2015 of offences against the state.

She also has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, but Ivory Coast has refused to transfer her.

The former president's ICC trial began in January.

Tuesday's acquittal was a surprise for many.

Mrs Gbagbo did not attend the trial in protest and was not present for the verdict.

"I'm disappointed and sad for the victims today.

"Only international justice can fight against impunity, it seems. We can no longer trust Ivorian justice," said Issiaka Diaby, president of the association for victims of the crisis.

Lawyer Soungalo Coulibaly did not immediately say if they would appeal.


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