Philippe Mangou at the ICC: “The Invisible Commando Fired Mortar Shells at Abobo”

Philippe Mangous testimony before the International Criminal Court (ICC) ended on October 5, 2017. For his last day, the General discussed the management of the post-election crisis by the Gbagbo camp and also revealed that the Invisible Commando was firing in urban areas.

It was early afternoon on October 5, 2017 when the testimony of Philippe Mangou before the International Criminal Court (ICC) ended.

During exchanges with defense counsel, the witness—former Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces—bitterly criticized the way the Gbagbo camp organized and managed the crisis period. The witness deplored a lot of “mistakes.”

“The way we managed the crisis, there were lots of mistakes. At each stage of the process, I approached the President to warn him that we were not heading for elections. Our brothers still hold weapons in their hands. They have not yet disarmed; let’s not go to the elections… At each stage of the process, we drew the attention of our officials to it,” said the witness.

Answering Claver N’Dry, Charles Blé Goudé’s lawyer, Mangou also returned to the actions of the “Invisible Commando” in Abobo Commune. According to the witness, this militia—which was fighting the Gbagbo camp—used mortars in the commune.

“Yes, according to a Deto Letho, report they fired in an urban area,” the witness testified.

For the prosecution witness, the actions of the militia led by Ibrahim Coulibaly, known as “IB,” were akin to “urban guerrilla warfare.”

“It started in January with infiltrations that could be staged in December. But, the actions of the Invisible Commando were felt during the month of January,” he added.

In addition, the witness, who is currently the Ivorian ambassador to Gabon, was questioned about his actions at the head of the Ivorian army. In particular, he was asked about his desire not to take part any longer in the action.

As in previous hearings, Mangou highlighted the lack of equipment of the forces under his command. However, he claimed this was not the only reason he gave up fighting.

“Lack of ammunition is not the only reason. I had reported to President Laurent Gbagbo and told him that the fight did not deserve to be conducted. And that consequently, I was leaving the Residence. So the supreme command of the armies was informed that I did not want to fight anymore, not because of ammunition only.”

“Until March 11, Gbagbo Was Still President”

With video shots for the last day of the hearing, defense lawyers reminded Mangou of his positions in favor of Gbagbo during the 2010-2011 crisis, notwithstanding the fact that he claimed in front of the court that he was informed the former Ivorian President had been defeated. In response, the witness, called by the prosecution, indicated that for him, Laurent Gbagbo was in office until March 11, 2011.

“The transfer of power had not taken place, the President had made some kind of appeal by asking the international community to come and recount the votes. It is not for the military to give the results. We, the army, the institutions are the compass we go by, provided that these institutions are strong and credible. We were misled by the institution in which we believed,” he said.

Before the court, presided over by Judge Cuno Tarfusser, Mangou also said how ill-at-ease he was to see the former head of state tried before the International Criminal Court.

“I know where I was and I know where the President sent me. I’m grateful to the President. That’s why I did all my best not to see today the President sitting here. This is not where he should be. This is not his place, and I did all I could to avoid this,” said the witness.

Mangou’s Last Words Before the Court

After answering a few questions from the judge at the end of his hearing, the witness wished to address the court, the international community and Ivorians. Mangou delivered the following message:

I would like to say thank you for inviting me here to allow me to tell my part of the truth to national and international opinion and also to the International Criminal Court. In doing so, Mr. Chairman, I simply said what I did, what I saw and what I heard. What everyone said … I did it not to condemn anyone but so that the truth is known to all because Côte d’Ivoire needs all its children.

I did it so that the truth be known to everyone so that everyone could benefit from everything that has been said here so that never again, never again, never again would our country fall into the abyss of history.

I did it, Your Honor, without constraints, freely and without concealing anything.  Because, as someone pointed out in this room, when we have done nothing, we are not afraid of justice. I would say, when we have the truth to say, we do not hide. I would like to ask with your permission, it is not political and very respectfully by putting myself under your cover, Your Honor, to apologize on behalf of all the Defense and Security Forces that I had the honor of commanding and on my own behalf, to apologize to the entire Ivorian community for all the inconvenience we may have caused during the post-election crisis.

Please allow me to extend our sincere condolences to all the families who have lost a loved one and to wish a speedy recovery to all those who have been wounded. I will end here and say to Your Honor, God bless you, bless the members of the court, bless President Gbagbo and my brother Charles Blé Goudé and ask the Lord, Your Honor, to inspire you so that when the time comes, may he grant you the wisdom of Solomon. I thank you.


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.