Blé Goudé’s “Shadow Work” According to Witness P-431

Today, in the courtroom of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Nigel Walker, director of the documentary “Shadow Work” about Charles Blé Goudé and the Young Patriots in 2006, answered questions from the Office of the Prosecutor. Those questions had one main objective: to highlight the common plan and the role played by Charles Blé Goudé.

Nigel Walker is the ninth witness in the Laurent Gbagbo and Blé Goudé trial. Questioning focused on videos and notes taken during the making of his film in 2006. The film was about the Young Patriots and their leader, Charles Blé Goudé.

The questions and answers followed each other for some time between the Office of the Prosecutor and witness P-431 before Presiding Judge Cuno Tarfusser requested an explanation from prosecution lawyer Melissa Pack: “Can you explain how relevant this is?”

“Design and development” of the common plan

Pack then summarized the reasons for this interrogation: “As pointed out in the document containing the charges, the common plan begins with the election of Mr. Gbagbo and then builds up.” She added that it was in the 2000s that “the design and development of the common plan” started. It translated here into three aspects: “how to control the youths…how to coordinate youth groups, [and]…the deliberate attempt to obstruct the normal course of elections.”

Throughout the day, the prosecution endeavored to highlight these aspects, but also – and above all – the political role played by Blé Goudé in 2006. The videos followed each other. They showed Patriotic Youth rallies with people sporting t-shirts with slogans like “Charles Blé Goudé, whatever happens, we die with you” or “Blé Goudé generation,” leaders of the Patriotic Galaxy, interviews with supporters or members of the Student Federation of Côte d’Ivoire (FESCI), the Ivorian popular Front (FPI), and the Pan-African Youth and Patriots Congress (COJEP).

An interview with Blé Goudé is also presented to the witness. In this interview, which Walker himself had done in Hotel Ivoire on June 30, 2006, Blé Goudé described the role of “spin doctor” he wanted to play: “Before talking to the people, before delivering a speech, there is some shadow work to do. ”

“A time for weapons   

The witness only described the contours of the videos he had made at the time. For instance, he repeatedly spoke about “tense” situations where “people were angry and restless” and where he was taken for a French citizen because he is white. He told, among other things, about an episode where the crowd thought he was a Radio France International (RFI) journalist.

Through Walker’s testimony, the prosecution also wanted to highlight the violence that was rife in the Patriotic Youth. In one video, a man, who came to take part in a rally, stated his willingness to fight the rebellion, which he saw as the puppet of France: “This is no longer a time for talks…It is a time for weapons…Let the white man come, we’re waiting for him…France should be called ‘rebel’.”

Finally, Walker also said he visited Bouaké at the end of his three-month stay in Côte d’Ivoire. He said he interviewed Issiaka Ouattara (Wattao) from the New Forces (FN) Command. The witness claimed he then left as soon as possible to avoid generating hostility, in case people knew of his visit to the north.

See also, Blé Goudé’s Lawyer to Witness P-369 “You are Positive, Even Though You Didn’t See Anything”


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.