In a decision dated July 9, 2018, Cuno Tarfusser, the single judge in the trial of Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé, ruled on a request submitted by the former president’s defense in June.
Pending the resumption of hearings in the trial of Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé, the proceedings continue behind the scenes. Thus, on July 9, the single judge rejected a request made in June 2018 by the defense of the former head of state.
The request of Emmanuel Altit, Gbagbo’s lead defense lawyer, related to witnesses on the list of Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. The French lawyer had raised issues related to these people who were called to testify.
In his submission, Altit wrote about the case of 12 witness declarations.
“The Defense reported, in particular concerning the twelve declarations, irregularities which prohibited the inclusion of these statements in the file: 1) Registry representatives had not taken the necessary steps to verify identities in the statements (to the point that one of the persons had not been asked to produce any identity document) and 2) some of the witnesses had made amendments to their previous statements, in violation of the letter and spirit of Rule 68(2)(b),” the lawyer argued in his request.
The French lawyer filed a motion on June 27 in order to have leave to appeal, which was ultimately rejected
In his reply, the Italian judge explained that the ruling on the witness declarations was not such as to affect the course of the proceedings. This is “because the factual issue to which the Impugned Decision relates is of limited impact it could not significantly affect the fair and expeditious conduct of the proceedings, much less the outcome of the trial,” the judge said in his decision written in English.
In addition to the substance of the question, Judge Tarfusser commented on the form of the request to appeal. “Accordingly, even if all three issues would be appealable, the Request also fails to meet all other requirements under Article 82(1)(d) of the [Rome] Statute.”
As a reminder, Gbagbo is being tried for crimes against humanity jointly with his former Youth Minister, Charles Blé Goudé. Gbagbo intends to plead for acquittal before the ICC.
The hearing to debate the issue of acquittal will take place in October.
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 Observateur Citoyen, 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.