Thirty activists from the opposition party of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo were sentenced Thursday evening to two years in prison for "
disturbing public order
" during a demonstration in late February in Abidjan.
On February 24, 31 people were arrested and detained while demonstrating their support for the secretary general of the African Peoples' Party - Côte d'Ivoire (PPA-CI), Damana Pickass.
The latter was summoned by an investigating judge for his alleged role in the attack on a barracks in Abidjan in 2021.
Twenty-seven of these demonstrators appeared Thursday evening and all but one - acquitted - were sentenced to two years in prison.
The prosecution had required three years in prison.
Accusation of instrumentalization
During the proceedings, one of the prosecutors considered that the defendants had been guilty of disturbing public order, “
even without violence
She recalled that the summons of Damana Pickass was "
" and that it should not have generated a rally.
The facts have not been proven.
The defined concept of public order is a kind of catch-all
, ”lamented a defense lawyer, Me Jonas Zadi, specifying that he would appeal this verdict.
The people who have been convicted are all members of the PPA-CI, it's a fact
," added another defense lawyer, Me Sylvain Tapi.
Last week, the spokesman of the PPA-CI, Justin Koné Katinan had accused the power of instrumentalizing justice "
for political purposes
", after these arrests.
The judiciary has become an instrument of oppression of Ivorian opponents
," he said.
Our regime is on the contrary trying to consolidate the rule of law where each citizen is free to exercise his freedom in accordance with the laws in force
”, replied Mamadou Touré, the deputy spokesperson of the Rassemblement des Houphouëtistes pour la democratie et la paix. (RHDP), the ruling party.
The political climate had however been easing since the presidential election of 2020, during the re-election of Alassane Ouattara for a controversial third term, where violence had left 85 dead and 500 injured.
Legislative elections were held calmly in March 2021, and opponents Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé returned to the country, after their acquittal by international justice.