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Former Ivory Coast PM found guilty of undermining state security

Ivory Coast prosecutor Adou Richard speaks during a news conference regarding the charges against Guillaume Soro in Abidjan on December 26, 2019. On Wednesday, a court convicted Soros for undermining state security and sentenced him to life in prison. File photo by Legnan Koula/EPA-EFE
Ivory Coast prosecutor Adou Richard speaks during a news conference regarding the charges against Guillaume Soro in Abidjan on December 26, 2019. On Wednesday, a court convicted Soros for undermining state security and sentenced him to life in prison. File photo by Legnan Koula/EPA-EFE

June 23 (UPI) -- A criminal court in the Ivory Coast convicted former Prime Minister Guillaume Soro in absentia Wednesday on "undermining state security" and sentencing him to life in prison.

Soro, leader of the Ivory Coast opposition party and former president of its National Assembly, has lived in exile for the past two years. Soro and 19 of his allies were also accused of "dissemination and publication of false news discrediting the institutions and their operation, resulting in damage to public morale."

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Prosecutors in the country's commercial capital of Abidjan blamed Soro for plotting a coup. Authorities said in December 2019, a recording was discovered in which Soro supposedly told other unknown supporters about weapons and key people in strategic locations.

The former Ivory Coast leader was sentenced to 20 years in prison and $8.2 million in fines after he was found guilty of handling embezzled public funds and money laundering in 2020.

Soro resigned as National Assembly president in 2019 to form his own political party before going into exile.

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