Firmin Detoh Letho, a prosecution witness in the Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé trial before the International Criminal Court (ICC), was questioned on November 9, 2017 by Laurent Gbagbo’s defense.
For his third day of testimony before the International Criminal Court (ICC), Firmin Detoh Letho, former Commander of the Ivorian Land Forces, was questioned by Laurent Gbagbo’s defense. The cross-examination, led by Emmanuel Altit, focused on the 2002 crisis with the armed rebellion.
According to the witness, the post-electoral crisis that shook Côte d’Ivoire is the consequence of the 2002 war.
“If there had been no crisis in 2002, there would not be this situation in December 2010. It is a consequence of 2002,” said the witness.
Still testifying about this period, the now-retired General claimed that the Ivorian forces were under surveillance.
“We were wiretapped. After the conversations, the people on the ground knew everything before we started the mission…When we planned to make a move after the meeting, the next day before we put our men on the ground, people on the opposite side knew what was going on,” said the prosecution witness.
Sprinkled with many closed sessions requested by the witness, Gbagbo’s defense counsel took the opportunity to question the witness about events that occurred in Abobo, including the women’s march in the commune that allegedly resulted in seven deaths.
Without hesitation, the witness denied that his men could be responsible for the deaths.
“Our elements on the ground did neither move from the Abobo Camp nor oversee any march…We were informed that women had been killed by our men. Our elements could not be there. All elements of the Abobo zone,” he added, “for more than two weeks, were entrenched in the Abobo Commando Camp. I confirm this, and I insist. Our men that we had on the ground could not leave the Abobo Commando Camp.”
“It Was Hell”
Gbagbo’s defense questioned the witness about the pro-Ouattara forces’ equipment at the time of the crisis. Between a few closed sessions, the witness gave details about their enemies at the time.
According to Detoh Letho, the ex-rebels were equipped as a “regular army.”
In addition to their equipment, the General also commented on the attitude of the ex-rebels. The witness, who was testifying from Côte d’Ivoire, accused the men loyal to Alassane Ouattara at the time of the abuses.
“They killed, I repeat, killed our elements…There was Anonkoua Kouté, in a village in Abobo, the inhabitants were massacred, and there were many deaths. It was hell for our elements,” he said. The former head of the Land Forces also explained to the judges that in addition to Abobo, Anyama “was a very dangerous area” for the former Defense and Security Forces.
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.