Trial of former prime minister of Ivory Coast, Guillaume Soro for allegedly “plotting against state security” opened on Wednesday at the criminal court of Abidjan-Plateau.
Soro who is living outside the country and 19 of his relatives are standing trial for fomenting a “plot against state security”.
The prosecution is charging the accused with “participation in an armed gang without exercising any command, unauthorised possession of firearms of the first category and acts of manoeuvre likely to compromise public security”.
Soro who wanted to contest the 2020 presidential election but got denied if convicted could face life in prison.
In 2019 Ivorian prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for Soro forcing him to abort a planned return to Ivory Coast by diverting his flight to Ghana.
His defence lawyers in the case are absent in the trial. They announced their refusal to participate saying they will not lend their support to a “sham trial”.
Soro, a former national assembly president, has already been jailed for 20 years after he was investigated for embezzling public funds and money laundering for amounts up to 1.5 billion CFA francs (2.2 million euros).
He led the rebels who failed to oust then-president Laurent Gbagbo in 2002.
Soro’s forces helped to install President Alassane Ouattara during a civil war that followed the 2010 election.
He retains the support of many former rebel commanders who are now serving in the army.