The trial of former first lady of the Ivory Coast, Simone Gbagbo, began on Friday in Abidjan for her role in the violence that resulted from the aftermath of the 2010 elections. She is charged with “attempting to undermine the security of the state” for her support of the efforts of her husband, Laurent Gbagbo, to retain power after losing the 2010 election to the democratically elected Alassane Ouattara.
The resulting violence left 3,000 dead and 1 million homeless. Simone Gbagbo has been held under house arrest since her and her husband were arrested in April of 2011. She continues to assert her innocence, and her defense attorney has made statements claiming that the charges against her lacks evidence, and that they are a political attack.
The 65-year-old wife of ex-president Laurent Gbagbo wore a yellow silk dress and tressed hair as she faced the judge, while outside riot police were deployed and officers’ body-searched people entering the law courts. The trial is viewed as the biggest judicial challenge faced by the post-crisis government of the west African nation.
While Simone Gbagbo stands trial in Ivory Coast for the resulting violence of the 2010 election, she was also charged with a range of economic crimes in August 2011. The International Criminal Court (ICC) also issued an arrest warrant for Simone Gbagbo in November 2012, which charged her with crimes against humanity. However, Ivory Coast officials declined to transfer Simone Gbagbo to the ICC in September 2013, opting instead to try her domestically for the murder, rape, and other crimes against humanity committed in the wake of the 2010 elections.