Witness Confusion on Videoconference

A new witness appeared at the trial of Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé on Monday, December 5, at the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, before that, P117 was able to finish his testimony in closed session, despite some confusion.

The temporary disappearance of a prosecution witness led to planning upheavals this morning in The Hague. P117 “is not where he should be,” deplored Presiding Judge Cuno Tarfusser at the opening of the hearing. This “vulnerable witness,” who testified by videoconference from Abidjan, had been very late.

Before the hearing was adjourned pending his arrival, the Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé defense teams took the opportunity to present a request concerning the next witness. They requested that the redactions in his written statement should be removed in order to have access to the name and function of the person who had helped him complete the application to participate in the proceedings. The defense considered it “indispensable” to know “the role and impact” of intermediaries for victim witnesses, in order to determine “to what extent the witness expresses himself spontaneously, without any prompting.”

The trial chamber rejected this request on the grounds that it jeopardized future investigations and the security of intermediaries.

New witness called to testify

Late in the morning, P117 finally arrived and was able to continue his testimony, still in closed session. It was not until early afternoon that the courtroom curtains were reopened and a new witness appeared to testify, openly this time. Even before his interrogation started, Sanogo Broulay took the floor to express his distress. “I lost everything in the war,” he told the Presiding Judge, before beginning to answer questions from the Office of the Prosecutor.

Without returning to the narrative of the witness, who was arrested on December 16, 2010, during the march on the RTI, the prosecution presented some documents to support his statements. Among these documents was an exit ticket from the MACA with the name of the witness. Asked about the consequences of this incident, Sanogo Broulay did not hide his emotion. He said he was “undressed and beaten up” and “fell seriously ill” as a result.

“I saw things that I’d never seen before,” he said, enumerating the physical and mental suffering from this experience, “bodily injuries, skin problems, and nightmares,” while he had “no way of getting medical attention.”

The witness warned of the march by an RDR friend

Very quickly, Gbagbo’s defense took over to cross-examine this witness. Emmanuel Altit, senior counsel for the accused, wanted to know more about the context in which the witness had gone to the march.

Sanogo Broulay, who lived on odd jobs at the time, explained that he was not “a member of any political group” and “never even voted or attended a meeting.”. According to him, it was an acquaintance from his Treichville neighborhood who told him about this march. The man called Fofana Chiaka, a militant of the Rally of Republicans (RDR), “was campaigning with politicians,” the witness said. Since he had “nothing to do” that day, Sanogo Broulay decided, “all of a sudden” to go to Cocody with two of his friends. “Just to go and watch, not to participate,” he insisted.

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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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