In testimony before the International Criminal Court (ICC) on October 4, 2017, Phillipe Mangou discussed the role played by the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire during the 2010-2011 crisis.
Elements of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) fired on civilians during the post-election crisis, Philippe Mangou testified before the ICC. Mangou is the former Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces and a prosecution witness in the case of the Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé. He was being cross-examined by defense lawyers for the two accused.
Claver N’Dry, a member of the Charles Blé Goudé defense team, asked whether UN soldiers had opened fire on “unarmed civilians” during this crisis, asked the witness: “Did some members of the mission fire on civilians?”
“Yes, they did,” replied the witness.
Blé Goudé’s defense team, which questioned Mangou for the first time, dwelt on the role played by French forces during the crisis. The witness criticized the direction taken by the Blé Goudé’s defense.
“We talk too much about France. France has done this, and France has done that. What we have to ask ourselves is what we Ivoirians did do so that France could not do what we Ivoirians did not want France to do,” Mangou said.
Presiding Judge Cuno Tarfusser intervened after these comments.
“Would you be so kind as to answer the questions without elaborating too much. Obviously, you can talk about what you think is necessary. But, try to stick to the issues that are important for the trial,” said the judge.
“I Was in a Hurry to Get Here”
Before the exchanges with N’Dry, Gbagbo’s defense team questioned the witness. Mangou, currently Côte d’Ivoire’s ambassador in Gabon, told Gbagbo’s lawyers that he had long looked forward to being called to testify before the ICC.
“When you have served in a high position of responsibility, you must have a deep belly, talk little and have a good behavior. This principle has guided me since the end of the post-election crisis. I did not go to any media…What people could read here and in newspapers was not from me. I was in a hurry to come here. Really pressed. The more time passed and the more it annoyed me. For me, the only forum, the only place where I could say what happened was here at the ICC or in another court,” said the witness.
For Mangou, this trial is an opportunity to explain his conduct during the 2010-2011 crisis, he said.
“I tried in my own way to serve my country. I am a human being, I can make mistakes. Some people,” the senior officer pointed out, “did not understand why I reacted the way I did when I was fighting on the frontline, I was defending the Republic, and why in the second phase I did not take part in the fighting. I had to come here to explain that to them. I was really in a hurry. When I was told you must testify, I welcomed that favorably.”
When asked whether this testimony was motivated by a promise made to him, the prosecution witness answered: “No one can force me. I’ve spent 38 years in the army. All my contemporaries have retired. I am soon going to retire. No one at this level can make promises to me.”
Mangou also cast doubt on previous witnesses.
“I can tell you here that you have received witnesses and prominent ones at that. You’ve done a lot of work. But when we heard the witnesses we knew who were the real witnesses and who were the ones who just came here to have fun,” he testified.
During his testimony, the former head of the Ivorian armed forces returned to why he did not appear at the trial of Simone Gbagbo despite the request made by Rodrigue Dadjé, the former First Lady’s lawyer.
“I would have liked to go to testify since she was asking for my presence so that I would come to testify. But unfortunately, they did not take the deadline into account, which meant that I was not present,” said the witness, who added that the written summons brought to him by the lawyer “did not observe the statutory administrative period of notice.”
“I Saw Dogbo on April 12”
Mangou was also asked to give details on his last exchanges with Dogbo Blé Bruno, a former Commander of the Republican Guard, who is currently serving a sentence handed down by the Ivorian courts.
According to the witness, his last encounter with Dogbo dates back to April 12, 2011 and took place at the Golf Hotel, which at the time was Alassane Ouattara’s headquarters.
“I saw Dogbo on the 12th when he arrived. We were both in a room. We were able to talk to each other. I asked him how he was able to get the ammunition he’d used to carry out this fight…When we had to leave I had a little money on me, which I gave him. It wasn’t a lot though,” the witness said.
The native of Abidjan also testified about how the generals paid allegiance to Ouattara after Laurent Gbagbo was arrested. However, he indicated that he did not know if Dogbo Blé had done so.
“I do not know if he was asked. Allegiance is a voluntary act. One does not force it on people. Either you recognize him or you do not recognize him,” he said.
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.