Former Côte d’Ivoire prime minister and one-time rebel leader, Guillaume Soro, has been sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia on charges of plotting a coup against President Alassane Ouattara.
Soro lives in exile in Europe. He was charged with conspiracy and an attempted attack on state authority.
His lawyers condemned the charges as politically motivated and said there was no evidence to show he was guilty.
19 other people were sentenced in relation to the case, including Soro’s lawyer, Affoussy Bamba, also in exile, who received a 20 year jail term.
The court also demanded the disbanding of Soro’s political movement Generations and People in Solidarity party (GPS).
All 20 on trial must also pay a collective fine in damages.
Soro’s lawyers said they would appeal the decision.
During Côte d’Ivoire’s civil war, Soro led the rebel forces that ousted the regime of President Laurent Gbagbo, leading to the election of Alassane Outtara.
Soro went on to serve as prime minister and speaker of parliament under Ouattara, but the two men fell out as the president made it clear that he would oppose Soro’s own presidential ambitions.
The case has raised tensions in a country still recovering from a brief civil war a decade ago, during which Soro led the rebels that swept Ouattara to power after a disputed election.