The last hearing day for Matt Wells, the Human Rights Watch researcher, lasted only half a day. Charles Blé Goudé’s defense team focused on specific points of the American’s testimony, particularly on the “Street General’s” speeches.
Emmanuel Altit, Laurent Gbagbo’s lawyer, took the floor for ten minutes to complete his defense team’s examination. He questioned Matt Wells about pro-Gbagbo refugees who went to Liberia and denounced what he defined as too simplistic a presentation in the Human Rights Watch researcher’s testimony (HRW), where an ethnic group was associated with a political orientation.
“You mean that the entire population of some Guérés villages fled, right?” Altit asked. Matt Wells assured: “Most Guérés [from Western Côte d’Ivoire] fled.” The witness said that HRW did not present a simplified history. And Altit retorted that his testimony at the Office of the Prosecutor did not embrace “the complexity of what happened.”
Evidence of murder “without seeing”
Then Jean-Serges Gbougnon spoke for the Charles Blé Goudé defense team. His interrogation was quite different from that of Emmanuel Altit, and focused more on specific points of Matt Wells’ testimony.
Asked about the passage of his testimony where Wells said that he could not get to the “Parliament” (Young Patriots” gatherings) in Abobo Avocatier “because of Young Patriots violence at that time,” Wells said he became aware of what had happened through cross-checking consistent testimonies and even had evidence of some murders. “We have the exact times and dates of the killings,” he added. Gbougnon concluded this discussion by saying: “You are positive even though you did not see anything.”
Call for discussion and incitement to violence
Three videos where we see Charles Blé Goudé were presented. Through these images, the defense once more portrayed the “man of peace” described in its opening statement. In one of them, the former Gbagbo Minister appealed for dialogue: “We believe that when one finally ends a war, one always ends up talking (…) then why not talk now instead of putting people’s lives in danger.”
“Why weren’t any of these calls for talks mentioned in your report?” Gbougnon asked at the end of the broadcast video.
“Based on the videos, we felt that Mr. Blé Goudé delivered a number of speeches that were not like those but rather incited to violence,” Wells answered. “And after these speeches, we saw an increase in violence. “
“Do you know the context of the February 25 speech? (…) Did you hear of the Anonkoua Kouté events?” Gbougnon went on. “Yes, we have done research on the context (…) The attack of the Invisible Commando (…) It’s in our report,” the researcher answered.
Wells’ interview ended there. The parties have no more questions. Only one practical question was raised. It concerned witness p-431 who, on Tuesday, May 24, will be the Gbagbo – Blé Goudé trial’s 9th witness appear.
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.