International Justice Monitor

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Defense Highlights Contradictions in Witness’s Statements

Charles Blé Goudé’s defense continued cross-examining Metche Metchro Moise Harold Fabrice on Thursday, October 27, at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The witness, a former member of the Group of Patriots for Peace (GPP), was again summoned to explain the discrepancies between his various accounts.

Charles Blé Goudé’s defense continued their meticulous review of previous statements by Metche Metchro Moise Harold Fabrice. They had the goal of revealing his contradictory statements. Jean-Serge Gbougnon, one of the lawyers of the accused, first examined the witness’s accounts of December 16, 2010. When questioned last week by the prosecution, he had referred to a meeting before the march on the RTI (Radiodiffusion-Télévision ivoirienne).

Minister Desiré Tagro allegedly met officials of self-defense movements to give them instructions in anticipation of the event. Therefore, the defense wanted to know why the witness did not mention the meeting in his interview with the Office of the Prosecutor in 2014. The former GPP second-in-command had said he did not know “who had given the instructions.”

The witness explained, “I was referring to the D-Day of the march,” noting that on that day he did not know who gave the instructions.

The prosecution denounced a “selective approach”

The defense counsel then asked if the GPP elements were armed during this demonstration. “Some were,” replied the witness.

“Then why did you say seven times that there were no weapons!” exclaimed Jean-Serge Gbougnon. To refresh his memory, counsel then quoted from his earlier statement: “We had no weapons” because the GPP “had not been allowed to go out with weapons.”

“When we speak of arms there is a difference between knives and firearms,” retorted Metche Metchro Moise Harold Fabrice, noting that in his previous statement, he talked of firearms. “We had strings. A string is a weapon, it can kill.”

The lawyer immediately seized upon the latter point, rereading the witness’s own citation: “To my knowledge, strings do not kill.”

“If we intended to kill, we would come out with guns,” the former paramilitary leader tried to explain.

The cross-examination was finally suspended by the intervention of the Office of the Prosecutor. They denounced the “selective approach” of Blé Goudé’s defense who “reads passages [statements, Ed.’s note] and omits others and presents this as if it were contradictions.”

Emmanuel Altit, Laurent Gbagbo’s lawyer replied, denouncing “obstructiveness” by the prosecution.

“The witness should not be misled,” the Presiding Judge said, cutting short any debate

The witness’s statements dissected in detail

The same cross-examination method was used for the duration of the hearing. Blé Goudé’s defense took up several elements previously mentioned by the witness, including the creation of the GPP between late 2002 and early 2003.

“You said Charles Blé Goudé came to greet you during a training session at the end of 2002, in what capacity did he come?” the lawyer asked.

“As Leader of the Ivorian youth, of the Patriotic Galaxy” the witness replied.

“Did this exist already?” Gbougnon asked, surprised. The witness said he did not know when this term first appeared but he used it as “its members have not changed” since then.

The last point made during the day was about Ahoua Stallone’s visit to the Adjamé GPP base in September 2010. “You do not mention Ahoua Stallone in your statement,” inquired the lawyer.

Apologizing, Metche Metchro Moise Harold Fabrice spoke of an “oversight.”

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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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