This report highlights the continuation and end of RDR spokesman Joel Kouadio N’Guessan’s direct examination by the prosecution.
At the opening of the session, Joel Kouadio N’Guessan, a witness at the International Criminal Court (ICC) and Rally of Republicans (RDR) spokesman reaffirmed what he said yesterday: “All political parties…except the RDR” used the concept of “ivoirité.” He gave names: Bedie, Gbagbo, and Guei. N’Guessan, also known as Witness P-48, again stressed the fact that this concept has led to a great number of human rights violations, which have been abundantly reported by various NGOs. However, he added that when he was a government minister between 2006 and 2007, not a single one of these reports was ever distributed at government meetings. “That’s what provided a fertile breeding ground for massive impunity,” he explained. He lamented this impunity all the more so because he considered human rights violations as “a regular occurrence.”
The witness also explained that after 2005, some people had hoped to see the organization of elections in the same year or the next. He added that it was at this time that Laurent Gbagbo allegedly said something that “particularly shocked him.” According to N’Guessan, the former president reportedly said he wanted to “disinfect” the voters’ lists, which, according to the witness, referred the need for the government to prevent people from the North from voting. “I told him [Gbagbo] in an article,” said N’Guessan: “These are human beings…these words are Nazi-like.”
“An electoral Holdup”
The questioning by the prosecution, which still centered on the 2000s, began to annoy both the defense and Presiding Judge Cuno Tarfusser. “We have enough context,” the judge said before urging the prosecution to proceed to questions concerning the post-election crisis.
According to the witness, in 2010, the Ouattara camp had information that “the Gbagbo camp was about to stage an electoral holdup.” After being reprimanded by Emmanuel Altit, Gbagbo’s defense lawyer, for relaying only “hearsay” and by Judge Tarfusser himself for “creating controversy” (stating that “the true presidential camp was Ouattara’s camp”), N’Guessan narrated his vision of the battle of Abidjan in April 2011.
Seka Seka and Bakaba
The witness said that on April 8 he was arrested by Major Seka Seka, accompanied by pro-Gbagbo filmmaker Sidiki Bakaba. Four people who were with him were killed. The witness recounted that one of them had his head blown up and Bakaba said this sentence while filming the scene: “What a beautiful potato!”
Bakaba then allegedly put the gun on N’Guessan’s temple, but a call from his nephew allowed him to be saved. “This guy is under the protection of very high-ranking people, I forbid you from touching him,” a soldier allegedly told him. When he was finally freed after considerable prevarication Major Seka Seka told him: “You tell President Ouattara you’ve seen me and you’re still alive.”
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.