Following speculations on the Internet concerning the identity of Witness P-441, Presiding Judge Cuno Tarfusser raised on Tuesday the possibility that the trial might be totally held “in camera.”
“The chamber is extremely concerned,” said Judge Cuno Tarfusser in open court, after a morning’s hearing held in closed session. Indeed, the first session of the day was undoubtedly devoted entirely to hypotheses on the Internet regarding the identity of witness P-441.
Judge Tarfusser then came out with a little clarification: “There are no prosecution or defense witnesses…They are here to tell the truth.” He also warned speculators, reminding them that the disclosure of such information is prohibited and that “the scenario of [permanent] closed sessions would become a reality if these speculations didn’t stop.”
Maguy-the-loser probably the executioner of Port-Bouet 2 Imam
Prosecutor Eric MacDonald resumed his questioning: “What happened to your identity papers? ”
“They made me eat my driver’s license,” says P-441, who was responding via videoconference from Abidjan. He also said that after seeing his papers, his attackers had stressed that he had not told them he was a Dioula.
Regarding Maguy-the-loser, the witness said that the militia group leader had held a rally in Yopougon before the February 25 events. The witness was there and Maguy-the-loser allegedly introduced himself as “the one who murdered the Port-Bouet 2 Imam.” He also allegedly warned all those present, saying that he had fought in Angola and western Côte d’Ivoire.
The witness also discussed “the burial of 34 bodies” following the events of February 25. Of these 34 people, all were “men,” said the witness, adding that there were “about 60 [other] bodies elsewhere.”
P-441’s cross-examination begins
With these details, the prosecution ended its direct examination. It was now the turn of Gbagbo’s defense team to question the witness. Once again, closed sessions followed each other to prevent the disclosure of information that could reveal the identity of the witness.
Andreas O’Shea, Laurent Gbagbo’s British lawyer, posed several questions about the beginning of the day of February 25: in the morning the witness allegedly heard singing in which the phrase “to each one his own Dioula” was used.
O’Shea also questioned P-441 on his previous statements to the Office of the Prosecutor: “Didn’t you say it was a pitched battle between Doukouré neighborhood youths and Yao Sehi neighborhood youths?” The witness replied, “It was all the time.”
And about the police, unlike the militiamen, “didn’t they throw stones?” O’Shea asked. “Yes, that’s it,” P-441 simply retorted.
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.