The Patriotic Galaxy, the hunt for foreigners, Nady Bamba: Those were the issues discussed at the hearing on Thursday, March 17. This marked the end of cross-examination by the defense and the beginning of re-examination by the prosecution of Sam-the-African.
The cross-examination by Charles Blé Goudé’s defense team concluded earlier than expected. It ended at midday Thursday instead of next week as planned.
First Jean-Serges Bougnon, counsel for Blé Goudé, interviewed witness Sam-the-African about the Patriotic Galaxy. “Have you attended a meeting where a structure was set up within the Galaxy?” asked Bougnon. “No,” replied the witness. “Was there a kind of ‘appointment’ to appoint Charles Blé Goudé as President of the Galaxy?” Bougnon continued. “If I call Blé Goudé president … it is as President of COJEP,” replied Sam who pointed out that “everyone wanted to be a leader in the Patriotic Galaxy” and that “this really created problems.”
Bougnon referred back to the philosophy and peaceful approach of the witness. He asked if, within the Galaxy, everyone had the same way of thinking. Sam said that people were very independent and that they did “not all share the same goals.”
Sam-the-African described an internal struggle and a desire to show muscles on the part of certain groups in the Galaxy. Concerning meetings of the movement, he said they were meant to see “how one could emerge from the crisis.”
No call to hunt for foreigners was heard
Bougnon said he therefore understood that these meetings were about the “peaceful mobilization of their activists.”
He asked the witness: “Do you remember Charles Blé Goudé asking young patriots and Ivoirians in general to drive out foreigners?” Sam-the-African explained, “Everything he did and said was always communicated.” He added: “I personally have not heard [such calls].”
On calls by Blé Goudé for the youths to enroll in the army, Sam shared his vision: “I think this is the normal way that Ivoirians who see the war coming…come to enlist”.
The hearing was interrupted for a break and resumed for the end of the cross-examination. Claver N’Dry, a lawyer with the Abidjan Bar and a member of the Blé Goudé defense team, ended the cross-examination.
No problems with the whites
The defense lawyer presented a video of Blé Goudé to the court, dated December 2010, that showed the former Young Patriots leader wishing happy holidays to Ivoirians. He denounced the calls for civil disobedience and also reassured the French living in Côte d’Ivoire: “We love you. You are in our hearts. Between Ivoirians and the French living in Côte d’Ivoire, there is only harmony.” Asked about the video, Sam replied, “We had no problems with the white community. What created hatred was the behavior of their institutions.”
In the following part of the examination, we learned of the forced opening of the Abidjan Remand Home and Prison (MACA) and the sacking of Abidjan Police Stations after the armies came to dislodge Laurent Gbagbo.
However, the Blé Goudé defense did not find it necessary to proceed. This was the end of the cross-examination.
A tense start of the re-examination
At the start of the re-examination (the part where the prosecution re-examines the witness one last time on the elements mentioned in the cross-examination), Emmanuel Altit, the lead lawyer for Gbagbo, sought the annulment of the re-examination or the possibility to examine the witness again afterwards. This is because, he said, there was an “imbalance in the proceedings.” Altit also requested that the prosecution should not be allowed to present new documents during the re-examination.
After some time for reflection, the judges returned to court and presented their decision: re-examination is allowed but not the use of new documents.
The re-examination began and Eric Macdonald, the lead prosecutor questioned the witness about the role of President Gbagbo’s traditional wife, Nady Bamba. Altit took offense at this question and noted it was irrelevant: “This is the President’s private life!” Gbagbo’s lawyer considered that in fact she has been mentioned only to talk about her ethnicity and link it to the fact that President Gbagbo has no ethnic bias. The questioning was then cut short.
The re-examination is to be completed this Friday.
Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé are charged with four counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, and other inhumane acts, or – in the alternative – attempted murder and persecution. The accused allegedly committed these crimes during post-electoral violence in Côte d’Ivoire between December 16, 2010 and April 12, 2011.
This summary comes from Ivoire Justice , a project of Radio Netherlands Worldwide(RNW), which offers monitoring and commentary on the ICC’s proceedings arising from the post-election violence that occurred in Cote d’Ivoire in 2010-2011. It has been translated into English for use on International Justice Monitor.