Witness Speaks of “Misconduct” at the End of the Post-Election Crisis

The prosecution asked their last questions to Metche Metchro Moise Harold Fabrice on Friday, October 21, at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The former number two of the Group of Patriots for Peace (GPP) was questioned at length about the end of the post-election crisis.

It was allegedly upon the decision of Commander Kipré that the witness was seconded to the President’s Office in March 2011, being one among 60 GPP elements. Their mission was to support the Defense and Security Forces (FDS) in their operations. At that time, there was fighting to retake the Army Staff, which had fallen into rebel hands. A “successful” operation explained the witness, who had taken part in it. Following this mission, GPP members also received congratulations and “rewards,” including a promise to be integrated into the Presidential Guard.

Allegations that antagonize Laurent Gbagbo

This it was not the only time that members of the paramilitary group were praised in the highest places for their combat engagement. On his way to the Presidential Residence in Cocody to meet his elements on April 2, 2011, Metche Metchro Moise Harold Fabrice was surprised to see Laurent Gbagbo join them. “He came to tell us he was proud of the young Ivorians,” the witness said. In this speech, the former president also allegedly said he had “won the war,” because his biggest fight was “to prove to the world that since 2002, destabilization [of Côte d’Ivoire] was orchestrated by France.”

This speech, which raised “emotion” among those present, was delivered in the “Yellow Room” of the Presidential Residence, said the witness. However, in the courtroom, this detail seemed to astonish Gbagbo who shook his head in denial. The witness insisted that several personalities were present that day, politicians and “Liberian fighters,” some of whom he had known a few years earlier when on a mission in Guiglo, such as “Junior Gbagbo.”

The witness helps Blé Goudé flee Côte d’Ivoire

In total, 100 of these “fighters accustomed to war” had arrived in Abidjan since January, added the former GPP second-in-commend, who even related the circumstances of their arrival. The Republican Guard went to collect them at the Ghanaian border. “Charles Blé Goudé had given them money so that they could leave the refugee camp in Ghana,” said the witness, explaining that he got the information from the warrant officer in charge of this mission.

The prosecution’s last questions were on the final days of the post-election crisis, including the escape of the former Youth Minister. The witness indicated that he “escorted” him to the M’Maya residence on April 12, before he went on to Moossou and then to Ghana. That same day, following the arrest of Gbagbo, Metche Metchro Moise Harold Fabrice left the President’s Office to get to the Locodjro naval base, where he remained until the April 17.

The Dioula were the targets of the GPP and Liberian fighters, according to the witness

During this last week, “we kept on fighting,” the witness testified. The goal was to hold on to the Yopougon commune. Asked about the abuses committed at that time, the witness reported that individuals from the Dioula population or close to Alassane Ouattara’s Rally of Houphouetists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP) party, were frequently “slaughtered” either by the people themselves, by GPP elements, or yet again by Liberian fighters.

These Liberians, who spoke very little French, carried out arbitrary arrests, asking those they met: “Gbagbo or home?” referring to the RHDP acronym. If people, who did not understand the meaning of the question, answered the latter, “they were shot dead,” said the witness. He concluded: “At that time we could not control this misconduct.”

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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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