Gbagbo-Blé Goudé Trial Resumes but the Witness is Absent

After 10 days of rest, the trial of Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé resumed on Monday, November 14, at the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, the hearing was soon adjourned, the expected witness being absent because he “missed his plane.”

There was a chaotic resumption of the trial of Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé on Monday, November 14, in The Hague. In addition to technical translation concerns, a bigger problem awaited the court this morning. As soon as the hearing opened, Presiding Judge Cuno Tarfusser deplored the absence of the witness, who “missed his plane” and only arrived today on Dutch territory. To understand the reasons for this hiccup, the judge sought explanations from the Victims and Witnesses Unit, not hiding his concerns: “How could a witness accompanied by an ICC official miss his plane?”

The public did not learn any more about this because the justification was provided in private session.

The hearing is adjourned

Back in public session, Judge Tarfusser announced the postponement of the hearing. In order to be able to start early tomorrow morning, the trial chamber also took the opportunity to make its decision on the defense’s request. Gbagbo’s team had asked that the examination of Witness 483 be postponed. The reason was that the defense could not prepare properly, as the transcript of the witness’s interview transmitted by the prosecutor’s office was not adapted because it included passages in Liberian English, which were not very comprehensible.

The chamber regretted that this request by the defense had been made so late because the appearance of Witness 483 had been expected for a very long time. It therefore rejected the application, while publicly deploring the attitude of the prosecution. Indeed, if the French translation was transmitted “on time,” this was not the case with the English translation (non-Liberian English), which was provided only after a request by the defense on November 9, 2016.

Before he closed the hearing, the Judge Tarfusser also gave the trial schedule for 2017. It should be noted that, given the increase in the number of cases at the ICC from the beginning of next year, the hearings in the Ivorian case will be more disparate and the breaks longer.

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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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