Trial in 2016 Ivory Coast attack set to get underway

TERRORISM, MURDER CHARGES

Several dozen people were arrested, including three suspected accomplices of the dead attackers, who were detained in Mali.

The charges against the 18 include acts of terrorism, murder, attempted murder, criminal concealment, illegal possession of firearms and ammunition “and complicity in these deeds”, Public Prosecutor Richard Adou said last week.

Nineteen people were killed – nine Ivorians, four French citizens, a Lebanese, a German, a Macedonian, a Malian, a Nigerian and a person who could not be identified.

Thirty-three people of various nationalities were wounded.

Rimailho, representing French plaintiffs, said those on trial were “small fry” and cautioned against seeing the proceedings as a chance for closure.

“The people who planned the operation are in Mali,” she said.

The prospects of seeing them on trial there are clouded by “the chill between France and Mali”, she said, referring to a breakdown in relations between Paris and the Malian ruling junta.

Mali is the epicentre of a decade-long militant revolt that has shaken the Sahel, claiming thousands of lives and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.

The attack on Grand-Bassam was the first and deadliest in a string of sporadic attacks on countries lying on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea, south of the Sahel.

In Jan 2017, members of France’s Barkhane anti-militant force captured a key suspect, Mimi Ould Baba Ould Cheikh.

He is described by Ivory Coast investigators as one of the instigators of the Grand-Bassam attack and by Burkina Faso as the “operation leader” in an assault on the Burkinabe capital Ouagadougou in Jan 2016 that claimed 30 lives.

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