International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Ambiguity Around the Participation of Gbagbo’s Witnesses

The last prosecution witness in the trial of Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé completed her testimony on Friday, January 19, 2018. Defense witnesses were expected as soon as the trial resumed, but they may not be heard for several weeks.

A forensic expert, Professor Hélène Yapo Etté, completed her testimony before the International Criminal Court (ICC). As the last witness called by the prosecution, the medical examiner was questioned by the various parties throughout the day’s hearing.

The prosecution has finished calling its witnesses, but nothing is clear about the passage of the witnesses called by the defense. In fact, while they were expected to begin their testimony just after the final prosecution witness, it is not known to date when they will be in the courtroom.

In fact, at the time of closing the hearing on Friday, January 19, Presiding Judge Cuno Tarfusser did not give any details about the date of the next hearing that, unless changed, will mark the beginning of the testimony of the first defense witness.

Furthermore, the schedule available on the website of the ICC gives no indication of the next hearing in the trial of the former Ivorian president.

The questioning of the witness continued to be very technical, as is the case with all the expert witnesses called before the court. Professor Yapo Etté was once again questioned about her work during and after the post-election crisis.

Before the court, she also returned to the crimes committed in Duékoué. The witness who said she “knew” of the events that occurred in 2011 in the western Ivorian town said that the autopsies in this case are continuing.

“Regarding Duékoué, a mission started is still ongoing,” she added.

Parties Opposed to ADASF Intervention

The court also returned during this Friday’s hearing on the request made on behalf of the organization African Lawyers and Democrats Without Borders (ADASF).

On January 13, this organization of African intellectuals made a request to intervene in this case as amicus curiae (a person or an organization, not directly related to the parties in a court case, which offers to submit information or opinions in the form of a brief that can help decide one of more issues in a case). Based on Rule 103 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the ICC, they wished to intervene in favor of the former president.

On the issue, the different parties (prosecution, defense, and legal representative of the victims) delivered the same opinion, namely, rejection of this request.

Judge Cuno Tarfusser stated that the chamber would decide on this issue “in due course.”

“All that is left for me to do is suspend the hearing, and you will have news. We will make our decision on the continuation of the trial,” said the presiding judge. These were the last words spoken by the judge when he closed the session.

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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.

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