Great caution was needed at the conclusion of the prosecution witness examination on Friday, September 30, at the International Criminal Court. To avoid the risk of revealing the identity of witness P-238, almost all of the questions of Charles Blé Goudé defense team were asked in private session.
Only a very small part of the discussions was heard today at the Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé trial. Questioning by the defense, therefore, seemed a little disjointed. Some questions asked in public were answered in private session and vice versa.
For the last part of his examination, the former Ivorian president’s defense lawyer wanted to know more about the role of the Licorne force military in the post-election crisis. Andreas O’Shea, one of the lawyers for the accused, notably asked whether “the French soldiers assisted the rebels.”
“We were told they were providing them with weapons,” replied the witness. However, P-238 said they had never seen “white soldiers” fighting alongside the Invisible Commando.
There was also discussion of a document from the Official Gazette containing the list of officers promoted in 2014. The lawyer asked the witness whether he recognized some names among those promoted. P-238 confirmed that some of them were members of the BASA during the post-election crisis, like Williams Koiho Sam or Tago Nado Patrice. Furthermore, he explained that two of these names were those of former rebels, Koné Zakaria and Ouattara Issiaka. The latter became Deputy Commander of the Republican Guard.
Other officers mentioned during today’s hearing included General Detoh Letoh. The lawyer wanted to know what impact his desertion had on the elements of the armed forces. “Many lost heart,” admitted the witness, adding that he was “very surprised” to see him go after so much time spent encouraging his men. Before his defection “he told us: go and fight!” P-238 narrated.
The only subject discussed in public during the examination by Blé Goudé’s defense was the “nature of the struggle” led by the rebels during the post-election crisis. “You said that the enemy was not used to fighting. Should I take it that it was not a conventional force?” asked Geert-Jan Alexander Knoops, lead counsel for the accused.
“I personally believe they were not soldiers,” said the witness, referring to acts of sabotage in particular. P-238 again discussed how the fighters “hid near houses” at night to shoot at the Security Force units who went to the Abobo police station.
All smiles, in the words of the Presiding Judge, P-238 thanked the court before leaving. The hearing will resume on Monday morning with a new witness to be called.