Ivory Coast: Michel Gbagbo sentenced to 6 months in prison for “false news”

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Michel Gbagbo, the son of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, was sentenced Friday to six months in prison and 500,000 CFA francs in fines (750 euros) for “complicity in the disclosure of false news,” said his lawyer.

Laurent Despas, a French journalist, director of the news site Koaci.com, where Mr. Gbagbo had made the remarks incriminated by the court, was sentenced to a 10 million FCFA fine (15,000 euros) by the criminal court of Abidjan, for “disclosure of false news”, according to Rodrigue Dadje.

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In an interview with Koaci.com in May 2016, Michel Gbagbo said that “250 people were still held in Ivorian prisons and that” 300 people indicted and placed under arrest since 2011 were missing”.

Michel Gbagbo and Laurent Despas were indicted two weeks later by the courts.
Mr. Dadje said he would appeal these sentences, “which could be a serious precedent for press freedom in Côte d’Ivoire”.

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“Journalists could now be condemned for having simply collected the words of persons or personalities if the Ivorian power does not feel to share this point of view,” said the lawyer.
“Our country is regressing considerably in terms of freedom of the press and human rights,” he said.

Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara welcomed Thursday, in his wishes to the press, that Côte d’Ivoire has made significant progress in recent years in the world ranking of freedom of the press established by Reporters Without Borders. is ranked 81st in the 2017 ranking.

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The pro-Gbagbo opposition often criticizes the government for “victor’s justice” when the trials concern personalities or facts related to the politico-military crisis that killed more than 3,000 people in 2010-2011 after President Laurent’s refusal Gbagbo to recognize his electoral defeat.

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