Metche Metchro Moise Harold Fabrice continued to answer questions from the prosecution at the International Criminal Court (ICC). In the course questioning that appeared a little disjointed several topics and periods were addressed, from the information obtained by the Group of Patriots for Peace, to agoras and parliaments, to missions carried out upcountry in 2003 and 2004.
“Laying the foundation” before getting on to the post-election crisis was the strategy used by the Office of the Prosecutor, who questioned the witness on Wednesday, October, 19. Like the day before, the questions focused on various topics without following any chronological order. This could easily make one lose the thread of the discussion, according to the Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé defense teams. They repeatedly called for clarification on the periods of time the prosecution and the witness referred to.
First, there was a discussion of intelligence techniques used by the Group of Patriots for Peace (GPP), a paramilitary group formed in 2002, which the witness belonged to. Metche Metchro Moise Harold Fabrice explained that a company inside the GPP was created by him in 2007 in Treichville for this purpose. Its objective was to approach “young northerners” to gather information on the rebellion and the areas it infiltrated. According to the witness, this information was then forwarded to national services.
“I worked with Poheri Julien, the Director of Military Intelligence” said Metche Metchro Moise Harold Fabrice. “We collaborated with the Security and Defense Forces,” he further explained, adding that the GPP had the advantage of having “access to certain circles.”
The prosecution then wanted to know more about another unit within the GPP that the witness mentioned earlier: the Ivorian Security Legion. Founded in December 2010 by an order from Alain Dogou, then Minister of Defense, it consisted of 50 elements, chosen based on “their integrity and commitment” in favor of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), Gbagbo’s political party. This unit was to be integrated into the Defense and Security Forces (FDS), and this was what happened, according to the witness. Some elements were sent to the Republican Security Company in February, others joined the President’s Residence and Office.
The questions then focused on the youth movements in general and their financing. Like the GPP, “created by the Ivorian authorities,” these groups received grants from political figures close to the ruling powers. “These patriotic movements were looked after by Charles Blé Goudé,” just like the agoras and parliaments, assemblies formed by these young people to convey ideas and political messages of the FPI, the witness said.
GPP, Yopougon, and FESCI: was there a link between them?
The witness stated that he knew several presidents and speakers of these groups, including Jean-Marie Konin, whom he met at the border of Ghana following his exile, the one called Steve Biko, whom he met in a refugee camp in Togo, and Maguy-the-loser, who also held the position of GPP Commander in Yopougon. In this context, he had also trained Student Federation of Côte d’Ivoire (FESCI) members in firearms handling in October 2010 in preparation for their integration into various FDS battalions.
In this same commune, after the second round of the presidential election, for the GPP the time for discretion had now passed, according to the witness. In addition to military training, which took place “in the full light of day for everyone to see,” the elements of the paramilitary group held regular “intimidation jogging sessions.” Armed with Kalashnikovs, to the rhythm of war songs and supervised by the FDS. The units roamed the town, lingering particularly in neighborhoods perceived as favorable to Alassane Ouattara. At various crossroads, the paramilitaries then proceeded to fire warning shots. The witness said the objective of these exercises was “to show that we were operational, and they had better behave themselves.”
The last part of the day’s hearing was devoted to GPP operations upcountry in 2003 and 2004. The witness explained that he was sent to Sapia in 2004 to support the FDS in “Operation Dignity,” an operation that was intended to “restore sovereignty to Côte d’Ivoire,” by defeating the rebellion. Interrupted by the Presiding Judge Cuno Tarfusser who sought to know the connection with the charges against the accused, prosecutor’s lawyer Alexis Demirchian justified himself. He explained that these details were essential in order to know the “modus operandi” of the GPP and its activity during the post-election crisis, a topic that should be addressed tomorrow.
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.