Ex-bodyguard of I. Coast's 'Iron Lady' appeals murder sentence: Lawyer

ABIDJAN - The former bodyguard of ex-Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo's wife has appealed a 20-year prison sentence for murder, his lawyer said on Monday.

Anselme Seka Yapo was this month convicted by an Ivory Coast military court for a murder committed during post-election violence in 2010-2011. He was in charge of ex-first-lady Simone Gbagbo's security and was arrested in October 2011.

"We have lodged an appeal against the decision," his lawyer, Mathurin Dirabou, told AFP.

Dirabou said the witness testimony was questionable and that medical evidence "revealed nothing".

Gbagbo himself is now awaiting trial in The Hague, and is the first former head of state to be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court, the world's only permanent war crimes tribunal.

His refusal to concede defeat after presidential polls in 2010 sparked a bloody stand-off in the world's largest cocoa grower in which some 3,000 people died according to the United Nations.

He was eventually toppled in April 2011 by current President Alassane Ouattara's forces backed by the UN and France.

Gbagbo was transferred to the ICC's detention unit in The Hague in November 2011 but Simone Gbagbo, the former first lady, was thrown in jail at home.

Since then, the Ivorian government has repeatedly refused to hand Simone Gbagbo, dubbed the nation's "Iron Lady", over to the ICC, where she too is wanted for crimes against humanity.