Witness’s Amnesia on UNOCI “Surprises” the Prosecution

Once again, a protracted closed-door session opened the day’s hearing in the Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé trial. Only in early afternoon did witness P-520’s questioning by the Office of the Prosecutor resume in public. However, a response from the witness about the UNOCI (United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire) sent the hearing back into closed-door session. Here is a summary of this hearing.

After a morning away from the public eye, the closed-door session stopped and prosecution lawyer Alexis Demirchian spoke. He continued his interrogation, which started the day before. He asked the witness if, in 2010, the Laurent Gbagbo government had asked for the withdrawal of the UN. “I do not remember, I do not know,” replied the witness, rather curtly.

A video was then shown by the prosecution. It is “a portion of the 18 December 2010 [RTI] news bulletin” the prosecutor explained. In this one minute-long excerpt an announcement was made: “the President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire requested the imminent departure…of UNOCI and the French forces that support it.”

The prosecution is surprised by the witness

Demirchian then asked P-520 whether he has seen this video. “I think I saw this item on national TV (sic),” the witness responded. The prosecutor then showed his surprise that the witness did not know about the Gbagbo government request for the withdrawal of UN forces. “A request for withdrawal could not escape your notice!” the prosecutor forcefully stated.

“Why not?” the witness retorted. To this, the prosecutor responded with a request for a closed session to continue the interrogation. The judge granted the request, and this was the end of P-520’s public testimony for the day.

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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.

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