The Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé defense teams cross-examined Sanogo Abdourahmane on Tuesday, October 4, at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The discussion was once more on the credibility of the videos filmed by the witness during the post-election crisis events.
“I used to film events that interested me.” This was what the witness explained to the court, answering new defense questions about his videos. Another film was presented at the hearing on Tuesday, but the public did not see it. “It’s a promise I made that day to the youths, and I want to respect my commitments,” explained the witness to justify his request for private session.
Also filmed from a balcony in Williamsville, these images seemed to show young people who had just “liberated” the Republican Security Company. Around them, a crowd congratulated them, shouting “Bravo!” and “We’ve been liberated!” According to the witness, these young people who had come from Abobo with weapons, were fighting “to restore Alassane Ouattara’s authority,” not on behalf of Ibrahim Coulibaly (IB).
“I was walking with them to hear what they were saying,” said the witness, who denied communicating directly with these fighters.
Videos removed from Facebook as a protective measure
A long interrogation took place on preliminary meetings between the witness and the Office of the Prosecutor in 2015. Jennifer Naouri, a member of Gbagbo’s defense team, wanted to know how and why investigators had helped the witness take his videos off of Facebook. “For safety reasons” repeated Abdourahmane, explaining that they had been able to trace him back through these videos. Following an objection from the prosecution, the defense countered, accusing the appellant of regularly wanting to “hide the authors of the videos.”
Another volley of questions about the origin of the phone used to film followed. This was to judge the “credibility of the witness” and the “plausibility of his story” said Emmanuel Altit, the lead counsel for Gbagbo, answering the judge’s questions on the relevance of these questions. “Maybe he did not film these images, maybe someone gave him the phone,” argued Naouri for her part.
Blé Goudé’s defense questions the witness about the details of the attempted attack on the Agban camp
Charles Blé Goudé’s defense now turned to another event, the attempted attack on the Agban camp by “IB’s forces” in mid-March; an incident that the witness could have observed from a balcony. Geert-Jan Alexander Knoops, lead counsel for the accused wanted, in particular, to find out how Abdourahmane could know so many details about the attack. He explained that after the incident, he had been “given” clarifications by the local youths, who had spoken with the attackers.
Claver N’Dry, another lawyer for Blé Goudé also asked the witness some questions about the titles given to his videos. He took the example of a file titled “Shots on unarmed civilians.” The lawyer tried to understand this choice of title because it was not possible to see just by looking at the images, if members of the security forces were actually shooting at civilians. “I was the one who did the filming. I know very well that they were firing at civilians even though it is not perceptible,” the witness ended up saying angrily.
Before he left the courtroom, the lawyer also asked the witness to explain an excerpt from his preliminary statement: “After the Independent Electoral Commission declared Ouattara the winner, I went out with people from my neighborhood because we were happy,” he said to the investigators. “We were excited because it was the end of a long wait…he was not necessarily my candidate, but at least they gave the results, and that was what we’d been waiting for,” said Sanogo Abdourahmane.
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.