On July 11, a witness had to answer questions about the entourage of Laurent and Simone Gbagbo. The hearing was interspersed with many closed-door sessions.
The Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) today discussed those close to former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and his wife Simone Gbagbo as well as the composition of the army. They directly asked the witness, whose name or pseudonym we do not have, to return to past statements.
At a previous hearing, the witness allegedly described Zadi Djedje as a “trusted confidant” to Laurent Gbagbo. The prosecution sought to know exactly what he meant by that. “A trusted confidant is a trusted confidant,” he replied.
“Were there others?” asked prosecution lawyer Melissa Pack. This question irritated Gbagbo’s defense: “We are now getting into real speculation. How can you ask a witness, who is not even close to the President, to determine who his trusted confidants are?” Presiding Judge Cuno Tarfusser agreed.
The prosecutor was still able to partially proceed with her questioning: “What about Kadet?” she asked.
“Kadet was Deputy Minister for Defense. He comes from the same village as Laurent Gbagbo. He was the head of a Mama Senior Officials’ association,” the witness narrated. However, before going further, “to be more effective,” according to Judge Tarfusser, the hearing was partially closed to the public.
“More on Mr.’s side than on Madame’s”
After the closed-session was adjourned, the hearing focused on people close to Simone Gbagbo. “Who was exactly in the First Lady’s decision-making group?” the prosecution lawyer asked. The name of Anselme Seka was quoted by the witness.
“What about Pastor Korah?” the prosecutor insisted. “He was more on Mr.’s side than on Madame’s,” said the witness.
“You speak of them as decision-makers. What decisions did they take?” the prosecutor asked. After this question, the session was again behind closed-doors.
The Invisible Commando “had everything”
The witness was then asked to describe at length the images of street scenes, shot during the post-election crisis. The defense asked most of the questions. The witness was required to give his opinion on matters of artillery, which included identifying tanks and other vehicles. He was also questioned on the weaponry available to the Invisible Commando, an armed group aligned with Alassane Ouattara. According to the witness, “They had Kalashnikovs and anti-tank weapons. They had everything.” The witness said he was able to confirm the presence of anti-tank rocket launchers.
Later, the alleged presence of a white person wielding weapons was also discussed, “Did that person wear a uniform?” asked defense. “No. No uniform,” answered the witness.
The Ivorian army, “a mixture where everyone feels at home”
During the hearing, there was also a discussion about the ethnicities that made up the Ivorian army before, but also during, the post-election crisis. Gbagbo’s defense listed a number of names of sectors’ and military divisions’ heads of the time. They asked the witness to remember the origin of each person cited. Even though in the case of several names, the witness was unable to answer the question, the defense concluded that “this very large sample” of officials is representative of what the Ivorian army looked like at the time of the crisis. This conclusion was confirmed by the witness. “Yes, it was a mixture where everyone felt at home,” he replied.
According to what can be deduced from the session, it was not the first time that this witness was appearing. It is difficult to know the details of the recent hearings because the trial has not been broadcast.
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.