The trial of Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé resumed on Monday, October 17, in The Hague. A new witness came to testify: Metche Metchro Moise Harold Fabrice, who was already a witness in the trial of Simone Gbagbo last July.
After a protracted closed-door session discussion about the witness’s safety, the trial chamber issued its decision late in the morning on Monday. The request to grant protective measures made by the prosecution and the witness himself was rejected. The reason was because the witness had already publicly testified at the trial of Simone Gbagbo, speaking also to the Ivorian press. His statements earned him “unpleasant comments on Facebook,” but “insults and threats” remained without consequence. Thus, nothing justified setting up special measures that the chamber thought would only “attract more attention on the witness.”
Metche Metchro Fabrice Harold Moses therefore briefly appeared before the court this afternoon with his face uncovered.
“Accused of very serious crimes”
The man testified under Article 74 of the Rome Statute on self-incrimination and therefore has been granted a legal counsel. As Judge Cuno Tarfusser recalled, according to this article, the witness’s words cannot be used directly or indirectly against him in the proceedings before the ICC. The only exception is if the witness were to provide false testimony, considered a “punishable offense.”
“We want to hear the facts. Your duty is to tell the truth,” the Presiding Judge insisted.
Taking note of the refusal to grant protective measures, counsel for the witness for his part called for an adjournment in order to have the time to talk with his client about how he was to behave during questioning.
“In Ivory Coast, he is accused of very serious crimes,” said his lawyer, apparently fearing that his testimony could be used against him in the context of national criminal proceedings. Indeed, the witness, who described himself in the trial of Simone Gbagbo as the former second-in-command of the Group of Patriots for Peace (GPP), “a pro-Gbagbo paramilitary force,” is charged with “murder” in Côte d’Ivoire.
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.