Simone Gbagbo lawyers walk out of trial

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Ivory Coast’s former first lady and lawyer. Photo credit: Africanews

The lawyers of Ivory Coast’s former first lady, Simone Gbagbo on Monday suspended their participation in her trial for crimes against humanity because the court refused to hear testimony from leading politicians.

Monday was supposed to be the first day of witnesses called by the defence, with Gbagbo’s lawyers calling figures including parliament speaker Guillaume Soro, former prime minister Jeannot Ahoussou and former army chief Philippe Mangou.

Dohora Blede, one of the lawyers defending Gbagbo reportedly said they were suspending their participation until further notice, calling the trial ‘biased’.

“We are stunned, these people include some who have gone to the International Criminal Court thousands of miles away. We’re asking them simply to come here by car. We can’t explain it,” the defence lawyer said.

The prosecution rejected the choice of witnesses and asked the court to disregard the defence’s request, which it did after two hours of deliberation, saying it did not have the authority to call them.

Simone Gbagbo is on trial for her role in the post election violence which rocked the country after the 2010 election, she is already serving a 20-year sentence for “endangering state security”.