Laurent Gbagbo’s defense asked their last questions to the witness this Friday, December 9, at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Although tired from feeling unwell yesterday, Charles Blé Goudé attended the hearing of the day, the last hearing before 2017.
Doucouré Ladji was interrogated by Laurent Gbagbo’s defense this morning and in the presence of Charles Blé Goudé. After feeling unwell yesterday, the accused had to leave the court for the day. Returning this morning, he thanked the chamber, through his lawyer, for “having been given the possibility to retire.”
“Health is essential,” replied Presiding Judge Cuno Tarfusser, before giving the floor to Gbagbo’s defense.
Thus, the last witness of the year was questioned about the circumstances of his brother’s death on December 16, 2010, during the march on the RTI. Doucouré Ladji was not on the scene when it happened and reportedly learned the news on the phone from a friend of his brother’s death. His brother’s friend had told him what had happened.
“Bemba told me that when the CRS arrived, an old man stood in front of the demonstrators. He wanted to protect the protesters,” the witness said in his written statement, adding that the old man was a “mage.”
“Bemba said that my brother…walked past this old man and that’s where the CRS fired,” he continued. When he heard about this, the witness then allegedly went to Macaci. “The CRS were no longer there,” says Doucouré Ladji. He explained that he then moved the body to his brother’s home in Williamsville before going to the police station.
Later, a hearse from the Anyama mortuary allegedly came to fetch the body, even though nobody had called it.
“Did they tell you who sent them?” asked Laurent lawyer.
“Perhaps the police,” replied the witness, adding that he had given his brother’s address to the police. According to him, he then went to the mortuary for the first time and then again “one month later” to get the death certificate.
The defense wondered if Doucouré Ladji returned to the morgue around the end of January or early February, “He couldn’t possibly have been given documents dated May 23, 2011”.
“I went there several times,” the witness justified.
However, the documents submitted by the Anyama morgue were subject to debate between the parties. The prosecution wished to add into the file the register that records the death of the witness’s brother on December 16, 2010, deeming it to be an “official” document, but the defense challenged its reliability.
Before suspending the trial for two months, the Presiding Judge wished to provide explanations as to the length of this unusually long break. In fact, it was a budget problem. The ICC has not received sufficient funds to conduct three trials in parallel and the hearings will therefore take place alternately. Thus, the trial of Gbagbo and Blé Goudé will resume on February 6, 2017, with witness P106.
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.