For his third day of testimony before the International Criminal Court (ICC), Philippe Mangou testified about his relations with the Speaker of the National Assembly, Guillaume Soro.
Prosecutor Eric McDonald questioned witness Philippe Mangou, former Chief of Staff of the Ivorian armies, for a third day in the trial of Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé before the ICC.
The questions mainly revolved around the legal framework of the former Defense and Security Forces (FDS) activities and provided the witness an opportunity to return to the remarks he had made in response to Guillaume Soro’s January 2011 statement. At the time, Mangou had accused Soro, the Speaker of the Ivorian parliament, of “calling in foreign forces to kill Ivorians.”
“Prime Minister Guillaume Soro did me the honor of receiving me in his room in Equatorial Guinea, which is a territory that is part of my area of responsibility. I apologized to Prime Minister Soro. He has always been considerate to me. This incident is closed, totally closed, I do not want to talk about it anymore,” said the witness.
“Our Policemen Were Attacked in Abobo“
Marked by several objections from the defense criticizing the direction of the questions, the hearing provided an opportunity for the witness, currently the ambassador of Côte d’Ivoire in Gabon, to comment on the action of peacekeepers engaged under the banner of United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI).
Mangou judged the work of the impartial forces “satisfactory” but said he felt “bitter about the UN forces.” The prosecution witness justified his feelings by describing a scene that he said took place in Abobo.
“On the night of January 11 to 12, our police officers were attacked in Abobo. A few minutes later, a convoy of impartial forces arrived. There were wounded policemen dying there. They looked at them, turned their heels, got into their cars and left. It is a serious mistake not to help a person in danger…When forces acted like that vis-à-vis our forces, it revolted me, and I informed General Hafiz [Commander of the UN troops],” Mangou said.
The witness also raised the issue of the curfew introduced by Laurent Gbagbo during the second round of the 2010 presidential elections. First in favor of this option, the former Head of the Ivorian army said Soro convinced him to oppose it. According to the witness, Soro suggested to Gbagbo that this decision be postponed.
“In spite of this, the President signed the decree,” the witness said.
“In a War Situation”
The situation in Abobo was one of the issues raised during this day of hearings. In Mangou’s opinion, the actions of the “Invisible Commando” in the most populous commune of Côte d’Ivoire made the Command affirm that Cote d’Ivoire “was in a war situation.”
“When you send elements on a security mission in a neighborhood for the benefit of the population and when the mission returns, you are told that you’ve lost four elements, it is difficult. When you see people using weapons of war, it’s a war situation,” said the witness.
In addition to Yopougon, Philippe Mangou was questioned about the violence that occurred in December 2010 in Yopougon-Wassakara at the Rassemblement des Républicains (RDR) local headquarters where deaths were recorded following a raid of the police who were looking for “a suspicious package.”
“The packages contained knives and weapons,” said the witness. He added that an investigation was initiated following this incident, but the results of the investigation were not communicated.
The interrogation of Phillipe Mangou will continue on September 28 with questions from the prosecution.
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, 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.