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I/Cost: Soro’s lawyer describes trial a sham

The team defending Guillaume Soro and his co-accused, on Tuesday, denounced in a note, what it calls a “sham” trial…

The team defending Guillaume Soro and his co-accused, on Tuesday, denounced in a note, what it calls a “sham” trial against their clients, in the case of “conspiracy against the security of the State” of Cote d’Ivoire.“Following his order for referral issued in the case concerning Mr. Guillaume Kigbafori Soro and his co-accused, the dean of the investigating judges of the Abidjan Court of First Instance, Victor Ousmane Coulibaly has shown “contempt for the basic rules of criminal procedure, and in general, for legal texts,” according to the note signed by Robin Binsard and Affoussy Balba, both members of the Paris Bar Association.

“Each one of 49 pages of this ordinance is full of inconsistencies, inaccuracies, approximation and ignorance of the legal texts, which is particularly worrisome for a magistrate, and demonstrates the State’s interference in the judiciary in Cote d’Ivoire,” the lawyers said.

As a result, “we particularly deplore, among the grossest violations of the law, the fact that this judge’s order disregards the decisions of the African Court of Human Rights on two occasions,” the lawyers’ note added.

The African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights has “ordered the freezing of proceedings against Mr. Guillaume K. Soro and his co-accused, as the proceedings did not respect the fundamental rights of those concerned,” the note insisted.

For lawyers “the dismissal of Mr. Guillaume K. Soro of the conspiracy charge is a legal joke; it’s a pure and simple violation of article 163 of the penal code, which requires the demonstration of a beginning execution, as well as the gathering of precise evidence with a view to a specific project.”

“The referral of Me Affoussy Bamba to the Criminal Court lacks a legal basis, especially since she is not targeted by the introductory indictment made public at the press conference of the Public Prosecutor Adou Richard in December 2019, and she has never been heard or charged for the facts referred to in the indictment or for other facts discovered in connection with them,” the lawyers further said.

“The same reasoning is held with regard to Messrs. Issiaka Fofana, Sess Soukou Mohamed and Moussa Toure, who were never also heard or charged for the facts referred to in the indictment,” the lawyers went on.

According to Soro’s group of lawyers, the “Ivorian justice has condoned a political settling of scores, aimed at excluding Mr. Guillaume K. Soro and his movement’s leaders from the country’s public affairs”.

“This eviction maneuver is carried out at the cost of the rule of law, since the Dean of the examining magistrates had no other choice than to violate a set of laws governing criminal procedure, in order to accomplish such an act of treachery,” the note explained.

The group of lawyers wishes to denounce a “sham trial resulting from the order for reference in question, and has already seized the international courts in order to contest these serious violations of the fundamental rights of Mr. Guillaume Soro and those of his co-accused,” the defense lawyers continued.

“It is now certain that only international bodies are the guarantors of the law in Cote d’Ivoire, since national judges are no more than puppets in the hands of the executive power,” the note concludes.

The trial of Guillaume Soro, the former Ivorian National Assembly Speaker opened Wednesday in the criminal court of Abidjan-Plateau, the business center of the Ivorian administrative hub.

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