Witness “Junior Gbagbo” continued to answer questions from the prosecution on Wednesday, November 16, at the International Criminal Court. These focused mainly on the financing of Liberian ex-combatants between 2003 and the 2010 presidential election.
Without hiding his exhaustion, Jérôme Tarlue Junior promised to “do his best” to answer the prosecution’s questions on Wednesday in The Hague. After a lengthy discussion of the 2002 conflict yesterday, the Liberian veteran was questioned today on the period from 2003 to the 2010 presidential election.
The main topic discussed was the financing the Lima militia after the civil war. “Junior Gbagbo” explained that he returned to Abidjan following the conflict, and he intended to go into exile in the United States. However, the veteran was not able to benefit from the United Nations aid program because he did not wear a uniform and also received a pass from the General Staff and a monthly pension until 2010. “Junior Gbagbo” was to recover this sum of 50000 FCFA directly from the CPCO of the Army General Staff. In case of difficulties, the witness could also directly go to Philippe Mangou, once he was appointed to head the institution.
“We knew each other well,” he said, referring to Mangou. “He granted me privileges. When we saw each other, he called me ‘General’ and gave me some money,” said Jérôme Tarlue Junior.
“I looked after my own business”
On the other hand, the witness said that he knew nothing about the situation of the other Liberian fighters, many of whom had returned home.
“I looked after my own business,” he said.
In an attempt to find out more, the prosecution wanted to show a document to the witness, a letter to Simone Gbagbo concerning invoices from a hotel in which Liberian fighters allegedly stayed in 2005. But the accused’s lawyers opposed the use of the document, recalling that the witness could not read.
“The prosecution wants to direct the witness and put names in his mouth,” denounced the defense, saying there was “no evidence of the authenticity of the source.”
The defense’s objection was finally accepted by the trial chamber.
The prosecution therefore turned to the pre-election period of 2010, still focusing its questions on the funding of veterans.
“As the elections drew nearer, everyone was very busy and I could not go to the General Staff,” said Junior Gbagbo. “I asked to be paid, but I was not paid.”
In those times of “riots,” the witness also explained that everybody was afraid. “I did not want to be identified as a Liberian,” he said.
“Ruined,” seeking protection, the witness then turned to Minister Hubert Oulaye. On this point, the prosecution reread the previous statement in which “Junior Gbagbo” said that the minister had promised him the sum of “100,000 FCFA per month.”
“I do not agree. I never talked about 100,000 CFA francs,” replied the witness, going back on his word. “It was not a salary,” he insisted, pointing out that Hubert Oulaye had only given him 50,000 FCFA to buy food.
“Missions” for KB and Séka Séka
Then, the witness allegedly went to the Navy Commander, known as “KB.”
“I had fought for the President of Côte d’Ivoire…he could help me,” the witness explained. According to him, a meeting between the senior officer and the Lima forces veterans took place in the Red City. KB then promised to “help” them, but he refused to “give them back weapons.”
The rest of the witness’s account was particularly confused and interrupted by a closed session. It was difficult to follow the chronology of events, but one could pinpoint a few key events. Liberian veterans, stationed in the Red City, were finally assigned “missions” by the Navy Commander, including setting up a checkpoint near the port.
“I received money from KB,” assured the witness, evoking “30000 FCFA per week” during the 15 days that the security mission lasted.
Following this, the ex-militiaman finally joined Simone Gbagbo’s bodyguard, Séka Séka, at the president’s residence. But “Junior Gbagbo” gave little information on this subject. It should be discussed in more detail at the hearing Thursday.
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.