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IVORY COAST – 3 Belarusian and Ivorian pilots tried in Paris for the bombing of the French camp of Bouaké in 2004

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In 2004, an attack attributed to the Ivorian army left 10 dead in a French camp in Operation Licorne, in the midst of a war between rebels in the north and loyalists in the south. Since then, justice has dragged on and Paris has been accused by certain civil parties of wanting to cover up the case. By Agence Ecofin

This Monday, March 29, 2021, the trial of three suspects linked to the bombing of the French camp of Bouaké in 2004 opened at the Paris Assize Court. The three men are accused of carrying out the attack that claimed the lives of nine French soldiers and one American civilian.

Belarusian mercenary Yury Sushkin and Ivorians Ange Magloire Gnanduillet Attualy and Patrice Ouei will be tried in absentia after a trial which is already causing a stir. Indeed, many gray areas remain unclear, and the plaintiffs from the families of the victims seem to see behind it a plot that has derailed.
It should be remembered that the facts are linked to the Ivorian crisis of the 2000s, which opposed the north of the country, defended by rebels, to the south loyal to President Laurent Gbagbo. At the beginning of November 2004, the latter launched an air offensive against the rebel positions in the north, under the watchful eye of the French forces of Operation Licorne, which have been deployed since 2002 between the two camps to avoid an attack. civil war.

Everything changed on November 6, when around 1:20 p.m., two Ivorian hunters flying over a French camp in Bouaké in the center of the country fired rockets to everyone’s surprise. The attack claimed the lives of ten people and left around 40 injured.

But the affair, which will serve as a pretext for the French army to destroy the Ivorian air force, does not end there. The next day, a group of Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian mercenaries who could potentially include suspects was arrested by French soldiers, but released four days later. On November 16, 2004, eight Belarusians from Côte d’Ivoire, including Yury Sushkin, were arrested in Togo, who notified the French authorities. Oddly, Paris asks that they be released.

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17 years after the fact, the main suspects are still running. Even if they are tried, the three pilots targeted by the trial which starts in Paris will not be present, as they have never been arrested. On the side of the families of the victims, but also many Ivorians who expressed their hostility towards France after the reprisals against the Ivorian air force, we denounce a “French manipulation”.

According to them, the government of the day tried to simulate an attack on its own soldiers, in order to trigger a French reaction against Laurent Gbagbo, who was not known to be a “friend” of France. Unfortunately, things would have escalated, say supporters of the conspiracy theory, adding that since then Paris has tried to hide the truth and the sponsors of the attack.

“This trial could have been finished, finished in 2005, maximum in 2006. We could possibly have known exactly who are the sponsors, which we do not know at all until now. Why don’t we know them? Because we did everything not to know them. And when we do everything to not know the sponsors, we ask ourselves questions. Who are the real people responsible for the bombing of Bouaké? While knowing that Laurent Gbagbo had nothing to do with it, and that they knew from the first second ”, criticizes Me Jean Balan, one of the lawyers for the civil parties.
While Franco-Ivorian relations have improved markedly since Alassane Ouattara came to power, the opaque undersides of this affair continue to fuel rumors. It remains to be seen whether this trial will provide answers to questions that have arisen for 17 years, or on the contrary whether it will give rise to new questions.

Source : Agence Ecofin / By Moutiou Adjibi Nourou

       

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