Former Ivory Coast PM faces war crimes lawsuit in France

Ivorian National Assembly president Guillaume Soro looks over during the launch of a new movement called 'Political Committee', one week after his resignation as speaker on February 15, 2019 in Abidjan. - Soro is a member of Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara's Rally of Republicans (RDR) party but is rumoured to have fallen out with him. Ouattara nonetheless said there was "no problem" between them, adding: "I do not rule out that he will return." (Photo by ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP via Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: Ivory Coast parliament speaker Guillaume Soro speaks at the National Assembly in Abidjan, Ivory Coast February 8, 2019. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon/File Photo

Ivory Coast former prime minister Guillaume Soro, a rebel leader before he joined politics is facing a lawsuit in France for war crimes, murder and torture, lawyers told AFP.

According to the plaintiffs, the case is being filed in France because Soro has been living in the country since 2019.

He was handed a 20-year jail term in Ivory Coast last month for embezzlement, money laundering and buying a mansion in the West African country’s economic capital Abidjan with public funds.

Soro was fined nearly seven million euros($7.6 million), by the Abidjan court, which also ordered the confiscation of his Abidjan home and barred him from civic duties for five years, effectively eliminating the 47-year old from contesting presidential elections due in October.

However, the former PM denies all accusations.

The latest lawsuit was filed in Thursday, the plaintiffs’ lawyers told AFP.

Soro is accused of ordering the kidnapping of former rebel leader Ibrahima Coulibaly on April 27,2011 and his subsequent torture and assassination.

The plaintiffs want Soro to face justice for several deaths that occurred during fighting between rival rebel factions in Ivory Coast in early June 2004 in Bouake, Ivory Coast’s second city and the northern town of Korhogo.

“After several long years of impunity, the responsibility of the authors, accomplices and the one who gave orders will be exposed at last,” the plaintiffs’ lawyers Noemie Saidi-Cottier, Laurence Greig and Joseph Breham said in a statement.

Soro claimed the accusations were false and said he was filing a case for defamation.

He helped President Alassane Ouattara come to power in 2010 amid political violence that cost 3,000 lives, later serving as premier and then parliamentary speaker.

After falling out with Ouattara, he launched an unsuccessful bid to become president last year.