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Ivory Coast trial for murder of military leader postponed

GavelA trial in Ivory Coast’s capital Abidjan for the 2002 murder of ex-military chief Robert Guei was postponed Thursday until January 21, with top officials from the former regime of Laurent Gbagbo among the accused.

The delay in the court-martial was attributed to procedural problems, with Gbagbo’s former Republican Guard commander Dogbo Ble and ex-security chief Anselme Seka Yapo in the dock.

Three of the 22 accused were absent from the court, and documents required for their summons were missing, instigating the delay.

The trial is for the murder of Guei, his wife, several members of his family and his personal guards on September 19, 2002, during a failed coup against Gbagbo’s regime.

Guei led a military junta that ruled the west African nation from December 1999 to October 2000, when Gbagbo defeated him at the polls.

Gbagbo is alleged to have fomented a campaign of violence in 2010-2011, in a vain attempt to stay in power after being defeated in his bid for reelection.

He is now in The Hague awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity over violence in the 2010-2011 post-election crisis.

Gbagbo loyalists Seka Yapo and Ble are seen as the main suspects in the Abidjan trial.

Seka Yapo was sentenced in August to 20 years in prison for murder committed during the post-election crisis.

Ble was sentenced in 2012 to 15 years in jail for complicity in the murder of a retired officer, and in March 2015 to another 20 years for his role in the 2010-2011 violence.

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