Cote d’Ivoire Guillaume Soro (47), the presidential candidate, has been convicted in absentia of embezzlement and money laundering. Soro was once an ally of incumbent President Alessane Ouattara. He commanded a rebel force which backed Quattara in his struggle against President Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to accept the results of 2010 elections.
Soro, who has been a rebel leader and Prime minister, was accused of buying a house with public money, the allegations he vehemently denied, while his lawyers boycotted the trial, announcing it politically motivated, paving the way to exclude him from October’s election.
Soro’s property in Abidjan, was confiscated and he was also barred from civic duties for five years. Soro was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment, 4.5 billion FCFA (6.8 million euros) in fines, the confiscation” of his house, deprivation of his civil rights, and ordered to pay 2 billion FCFA (3 million euros) in damages to the state of Côte d’Ivoire.
The verdict was announced after a trial that lasted only a few hours. Soro was not present as he lives in exile in France.
President Alassane Ouattara “who today wears dictator’s clothes with great ease, submits justice to his boot and orders political killings against his rivals in order to exclude them from the electoral competition, embodies the worst version of the African leader,” he said.
“He quickly forgot that the justice system he is manipulating today is the same one that decreed him ineligible a few years ago (…) The rest we all know: he became president,” he added.
However the extradition of Soro is not obvious, because of poor Human rights record of Cote d’Ivoire, which i major factor taken into consideration by the French justice while considering extradition requests.