PARIS, 15 April 2021 – Three airmen have been sentenced to life in prison by a court in Paris, France, for the killing 17 years ago in Cote d’Ivoire of nine French peacekeeping soldiers and an American aid worker.
Victims were killed during what many consider a mysterious air raid on the French military base in the northern Ivoirian town of Bouake during the civil war in Cote d’Ivoire.
The French air force retaliated after the raid with one of their own during which French planes completely obliterated the Ivoirian air force planes on the ground.
Yury Sushkin, a Belarusian mercenary pilot, was one of the three sentenced, along with his two Ivoirian co-pilots, Patrice Quei and Ange Gnanduillet.
The airmen were tried in absentia and may never serve a day in prison.
Officials say their whereabouts are unknown, with the French government facing accusations of not doing more to find, arrest and detain the Belarusian suspect.
The French raid effectively ended efforts by the former Ivoirian President Laurent Gbagbo to lead a major military campaign against rebels fighting to oust him.
The then-president, Alassane Ouattara, had the full support of the rebels.