Ivory Coast Judge says Simone Gbagbo's crime against humanity trial can happen without her

A row over high-profile witnesses has hobbled proceedings against Gbagbo, wife of ex- president Laurent Gbagbo who was forced from power in 2011 by forces loyal to the incumbent Alassane Ouattara.

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Former Ivorian first lady Simone Gbagbo looks on at Abidjan's courthouse on October 10, 2016 before the re-opening of her trial play

Former Ivorian first lady Simone Gbagbo looks on at Abidjan's courthouse on October 10, 2016 before the re-opening of her trial

(AFP/File)
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Former Ivorian first lady Simone Gbagbo looks on at Abidjan's courthouse on October 10, 2016 before the re-opening of her trial play

Former Ivorian first lady Simone Gbagbo looks on at Abidjan's courthouse on October 10, 2016 before the re-opening of her trial

(AFP/File)

The trial of Ivory Coast's former first lady Simone Gbagbo for crimes against humanity can proceed without her, a judge ruled Wednesday following her failure to appear in court.

A row over high-profile witnesses has hobbled proceedings against Gbagbo, wife of ex- president Laurent Gbagbo who was forced from power in 2011 by forces loyal to the incumbent Alassane Ouattara.

Simone Gbagbo is accused of involvement in the shelling of Abobo, a northern suburb of the capital Abidjan, which was a Ouattara stronghold, and of being a member of a "crisis cell" that allegedly coordinated attacks by the armed forces and militias in support of Gbagbo.

She is already serving a 20-year sentence for "endangering state security".

Her lawyers have argued that the crimes against humanity trial, which began in May, cannot continue unless witnesses including parliament's speaker, a former prime minister and a former army chief appear.

They have failed to turn up at previous hearings and have been criticised by Gbagbo's lawyers.

But judge Boiqui Kouadjo said the case would continue regardless -- without Gbagbo -- with court appointed lawyers representing her. The next hearing will be on November 28.

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