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Former Ivory Coast PM jailed 20 years for corruption

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Exiled former Ivorian prime minister Guillaume Soro was handed a 20-year jail term on Tuesday for embezzlement and money laundering.

Soro, who lives in France, was accused of buying a house in Abidjan in 2007 with public money. 

The Abidjan court fined him nearly seven million euros ($7.6 million), ordered the confiscation of his Abidjan home and barred him from civic duties for five years.

The court issued a fresh arrest warrant against him, in effect barring him from contesting elections, and ordered him to pay three million euros in damages and interest to the state.

Soro helped President Alassane Ouattara to power in 2010 amid political violence that cost 3,000 lives, later serving as premier and then parliamentary speaker.

After falling out with Ouattara, he launched an unsuccessful bid to become president last year.

Government lawyer Ben Meite Abdoulaye dismissed suggestions the verdict was political, calling it a “thunderbolt in the sky of Ivorian corruption”.

“This decision is the start of a new era in Ivory Coast. We must hunt down corruption wherever it is found,” he said.

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights had recently ordered Ivory Coast to suspend an arrest warrant against Soro, who had taken his case to a Tanzania-based court last month.

AFP

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