Ivory Coast court sentences former Gbagbo minister to 15 years

(Reuters) – A court in Ivory Coast has sentenced a former adviser to ex-President Laurent Gbagbo to 15 years in jail for plotting to overthrow Gbagbo’s successor, President Alassane Ouattara, the defendant’s lawyer said on Friday.

Moise Lida Kouassi, who once served as Gbagbo’s defence minister, was arrested in Togo in 2012 for his role in a planned military coup against Ouattara, who beat Gbagbo in a U.N.-certified election in 2010.

Gbagbo refused to step down after the election, dragging Ivory Coast into a brief civil war that ended when he was defeated by pro-Ouattara forces backed by French and U.N. troops. Gbagbo is now on trial at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

Details of the plan to reinstate Gbagbo in a coup were found on Kouassi’s computer hard drive after his arrest. At the time, Kouassi said he wanted to ask for Ouattara’s forgiveness.

Kouassi’s lawyer Felix Bobre said his client would appeal against the decision. He said Kouassi was being targeted just because of his association with the disgraced ex-president.

“This conviction confirms the denial of justice in Ivory Coast and the systematic condemnation of all the relatives of former president Gbagbo in arranged and unjust lawsuits,” said Bobre.

Reporting by Ange Aboa; Writing by Edward McAllister; Editing by Gareth Jones

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