International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

According to Witness, BASA was One of the Last Units to be Faithful to Laurent Gbagbo

The Office of the Prosecutor continued its examination of witness P-238 on Wednesday, September 28, at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The witness answered questions about the storage of the Ground-to-air Artillery Battalion (BASA) weapons, its strategic positions, and its missions in the post-election crisis. Between private sessions and technical problems, the public did not have access to all the debates.

After the witness’s statements yesterday, the lead prosecutor Eric MacDonald wanted to know more about the checking of the Ground-to-air Artillery Battalion (BASA) weapons conducted by the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire. P-238 had talked about how part of the ammunition was hidden away during those investigations. The witness said that by order of the Commanding Officer, Colonel Dadi, elements of the BASA took some ammunition outside the camp in vehicles and returned there only after the inspectors left.

The prosecution then turned its attention to the organization of the BASA during the post-election crisis. According to the witness, an Operations Center, led by Colonel Dadi, had been set up to manage the various positions of his men. During the events, the BASA held several stationary and mobile positions in Abidjan, including a patrol that was stationed at Marie Thérèse Houphouet Boigny crossroads, near the Golf Hotel, to maintain the blockade against Alassane Ouattara’s headquarters.

The last Gbagbo faithful

Other elements were stationed elsewhere in the city, including the home of the Commanding Officer, the RTI (the state-owned television station), in front of the Maca Cicilian Prison, the Abobo Commando Camp, and outside the Presidential Residence and Palace. In addition to these fixed positions, BASA elements were conducting “deterrence patrols” to “enforce the curfew.”

“We took out equipment. We made trains” with vehicles armed with 20 mm guns, the witness said. Operations were also conducted in Abobo. “There was resistance. We had to find them and try to secure Abobo,” P-238 said.

“What were the instructions?” asked MacDonald.

“We had to use weapons if people used the weapons. We had to retaliate,” the witness said.

Later in the morning, P-238 also referred to the end of the post-election crisis and the defection of some officers, such as General Philippe Mangou, Army Chief of Staff, and General Detoh Letoh, Commander of the Land Forces. After Mangou left, Colonel Konan Boniface took over the reins of the last units fighting for Gbagbo said P-238, referring to the BASA, the Republican Guard, and the Navy. The witness then listed the former President’s last “faithful” officers: Colonels Dadi and Konan Boniface, Commanders Abéhi and Dogbo Blé. “These were soldiers, they were faithful,” he justified.

Due to a technical problem, those in the public gallery were denied access to questioning during the afternoon. Therefore, no information on the last exchange between P-238 and the prosecution was available. The examination of the witness is expected to resume tomorrow with questions from Gbagbo’s defense.

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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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