Simone Gbagbo, the former first lady of Ivory Coast, has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Netherlands. Her husband was overthrown by France and the United States during 2011., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
ICC issues warrant for Ivory Coast's ex-first lady
The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Ivory Coast's former first lady Simone Gbagbo, accusing her of crimes against humanity committed during the West African nation's post-election conflict last year.
The warrant, which was issued on February 29 but has remained sealed until now, alleges she was "criminally responsible for murder, rape, other forms of sexual violence, other inhumane acts, and persecution".
"Simone Gbagbo was ideologically and professionally very close to her husband ... Although unelected, she behaved as the alter ego of her husband, exercising power and taking state decision," the warrant said.
"There are reasonable grounds to believe that the pro-Gbagbo forces who executed the common plan did so in obeying in an almost automatic way orders received from Simone Gbagbo."
Rights groups said the warrant risks deepening the widespread perception of winner's justice as no forces loyal to the current government have been arrested despite evidence of crimes being committed on both sides.
Gbagbo is being held in the Ivory Coast where she is due to be tried on held is genocide charges.
The government did not immediately say whether it planned to extradite her.
"We've just been informed of this. We will now examine the situation and take a decision," government spokesman Bruno Kone said.
Former president Laurent Gbagbo, whose refusal to accept defeat in a 2010 election triggered the brief war, is already in The Hague awaiting trial on similar charges.
In the wake of the 2010 election, violent street protests slipped into all-out combat between soldiers and militias loyal to Gbagbo and fighters supporting current president Alassane Ouattara, who received the backing of United Nations and French troops.
More than 3,000 people died in the conflict.