Drastic Protection Measures for the Hearing of a “Vulnerable Witness”

P513 testified this Wednesday, November 23, in the trial of Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé. However, because this is a “vulnerable witness,” the trial chamber decided to hear her narrative in camera. This testimony should last no longer than one day.

The decision was announced yesterday by Presiding Judge Cuno Tarfusser. P513 was to be heard in camera because this was a “delicate statement” by a witness of the facts. The presiding judge found that some of the next witnesses, including P513, ran the “risk of being retraumatized if they made their statements in public.” Possibly, decisions to reclassify certain passages from the testimony could be taken later, which meant that the public might have access to this testimony later.

Before the curtains were drawn and the hearing of the witness began, the chamber provided the parties with some guidance in public. Judge Tarfusser made it clear that interrogations should be limited to “that particular day.”

“She is here to talk about that only,” warned the presiding judge, adding that he would ban any question “outside this framework.”

Like all prosecution witnesses to testify between now and the December 9 recess, the witness referred to a specific fact, the December 16, 2010 march on the RTI, an event included in the charges against the accused.

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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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