Two witnesses testified by videoconference on Thursday, December 8, at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The interrogations took place in the absence of Charles Blé Goudé. The former Minister of Youth had to leave the courtroom because he felt unwell.
“The situation is not serious,” said Seri Zokou, one of the accused’s lawyers, late in the morning. Earlier this morning, Charles Blé Goudé had indeed to leave the courtroom because he felt “unwell.” Feeling “dizzy,” he visibly suffered from a cold. “He needs rest and medication,” his lawyer explained, adding that Charles Blé Goudé had given “his consent” that the hearing of the witnesses could go on in his absence.
Thus, the defense was able to ask their last questions to Bakayoko Kaladjy. However, he was not very talkative and claimed to know nothing about the post-election crisis. “I was told that people were fighting,” he said, noting that he did not know the forces involved. When questioned by Blé Goudé’s lawyer, the witness admitted that he had observed people’s movements, particularly around Anonkoua Kouté, where he had his carpentry shop. But according to him, these movements took place after the crisis, more precisely after the arrest of Laurent Gbagbo. These people “fled because they were attacked,” he said. Again, he was unable to answer the lawyer who was trying to find out who the assailants were.
The witness also explained that the neighborhood youths took him for a Togolese, an affirmation that caused the lawyer’s stupefaction. Jean-Serge Gbougnon asked why, even though the witness has no Togolese accent. “Because I was a carpenter,” replied the witness.
The defense also returned to the march on the RTI, during which Bakayoko Kaladjy allegedly lost his brother. The witness assured that his brother, standing in the midst of thousands of demonstrators, was waving to him from a bridge near PK18. He allegedly lost his trace after the live bullet shooting from the security forces. “People are falling around your brother, and he keeps waving to you?” said Jean-Serge Gbougnon, noting that it seemed difficult to spot a person among the “thousands” of demonstrators present. “That’s right,” replied Bakayoko Kaladjy however.
Doucouré Ladji, another witness called to testify
This afternoon, another witness took over to talk about the same march on the RTI. Doucouré Ladji, who drove a taxi, lost his younger brother on December 16, 2010. Although his brother “did not like Gbagbo” and supported the Republican of Rally (RDR), the witness assured that his brother had not planned to attend the march that day. Indeed, they had to meet early in the morning to “travel” to Issia, their home town. On the way to the Gare du Nord (Northern Railway Station), the witness received a phone call from his younger brother’s friend. “He told me that the security forces shot at them and that my brother fell down,” said the Doucouré Ladji.
The defense sought to find out why the two brothers decided to travel with their children, even though they were aware of the march. The witness replied that he thought he would avoid the crowd by leaving home very early. As for why his younger brother found himself in the midst of the demonstrators, the answer was not clear.
“Maybe it coincided with the departure of the marchers,” said the taxi driver. But Gbagbo’s defense reminded the witness of his statement to the investigators from the prosecution in 2015. “In my opinion, he let himself get drawn into it,” he explained.
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.