3 sentenced to life in prison in absentia by Paris court over 2004 bombing that killed 9 French peacekeepers

A Paris court has sentenced two Ivorian men and a Belarusian mercenary to life in prison over a bombing in the Ivory Coast almost a decade ago that killed nine French peacekeepers and a US aid worker.

The trio were convicted of being behind a bomb attack which struck near the Ivory Coast city of Bouake on November 6, 2004. France swiftly responded to the attack with a military strike that eliminated the entire West African nation’s air force and sparked days of fighting in the region between Paris and Abidjan.

The three – Ivorians Patrice Ouei and Ange Gnanduillet, and Belarusian Yury Sushkin – were tried in absentia after escaping detention shortly after the attack. Sushkin was, temporarily, under arrest after being detained by Togolese authorities, who offered to hand him over to France 10 days after the bombing. However, the French authorities, for unknown reasons, suggested he be released. Investigators have suggested that his release was requested by French officials at the time, as France was focused on protecting and rescuing their own citizens in the Ivory Coast.

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In 2019, three people who had served in senior political roles in France’s cabinet during the bombing were placed under scrutiny for the failure to arrest the suspects and put them on trial. However, the relevant court refused to prosecute that case against the then-defense minister, then-interior minister, and then-foreign affairs minister, with the three only serving as witnesses in the more recent trial.

French officials suggested at the time of the bombing that the then-president of the Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo, had ordered the attack on the peacekeepers, an allegation he’s denied. Gbagbo was removed from power in 2011 and extradited to The Hague to face charges of crimes against humanity. He was later cleared and allowed to return to the Ivory Coast.

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Source:RT World News

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