Ivory Coast's former prime minister Guillaume Soro, a rebel leader before he entered politics, is facing a lawsuit in France for war crimes, torture and murder, lawyers told AFP.

The plaintiffs say the case is being filed in France because Soro has been living in the country since 2019.

Late last month, he was handed a 20-year jail term in Ivory Coast for embezzlement, money laundering, and buying a mansion in the West African country's main city Abidjan with public money.

The Abidjan court fined him nearly seven million euros ($7.6 million), ordered the confiscation of his Abidjan home and barred him from civic duties for five years, which effectively eliminates the 47-year-old from contesting presidential elections due in October.

Soro denies all accusations.

The latest lawsuit was filed on Thursday, the plaintiffs' lawyers told AFP.

Soro, who has been living in exile in France, denies the accusations
Soro, who has been living in exile in France, denies the accusations AFP / ISSOUF SANOGO

Soro is accused of ordering the kidnapping of former rebel leader Ibrahima Coulibaly on April 27, 2011 and his subsequent torture and assassination.

The plaintiffs also want Soro to face justice for several deaths that occurred during fighting between rival rebel factions in Ivory Coast in early June 2004 in Bouake, Ivory Coast's second city, and the northern town of Korhogo.

"After several long years of impunity ... the responsibility of the authors, accomplices and the one who gave orders will be exposed at last," the plaintiffs' lawyers Noemie Saidi-Cottier, Laurence Greig and Joseph Breham said in a statement.

Soro called the accusations false and said he was filing a case for defamation.

Soro helped President Alassane Ouattara to power in 2010 amid political violence that cost 3,000 lives, later serving as premier and then parliamentary speaker.

After falling out with Ouattara, he launched an unsuccessful bid to become president last year.