Gbagbo’s Defense Denounces Abobo Massacre of Women as “Staged”

On the second day of arguments supporting his plea for the acquittal of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo, the defense of the former head of state spoke about the presumed death of seven women in Abobo in March 2011.

Today, Laurent Gbagbo’s defense team addressed the alleged massacre of seven protesters in Abobo on March 3, 2011.

At a hearing about the request for Laurent Gbagbo’s acquittal, Jennifer Naouri, a member of the defense team for the former head of state, questioned the very existence of the incident.

“This is a staging to accuse the Defense and Security Forces (FDS),” said the French lawyer. To corroborate her claims, Naouri noted the shortcomings that she said were in the video, the main piece of evidence concerning this alleged tragedy.

“The metadata say that the images were not shot in March 2011. What the Prosecutor claims to be an event that took place on March 3, 2011 seems to have been shot in January 2011. How is it that Sira Dramé, a great organizer of the March 3, 2011 march, does not appear anywhere in the images? Surely the reason is that these images do not date from March 3, 2011,” said the lawyer. She added by accusing the Prosecutor of wanting “to rewrite history.”

Regarding the general situation in Abobo, Naouri argued that the commune had only one real military force—pro-Ouattara troops that she called “the rebels” throughout her arguments.

“As early as February 2011, the FDS were forced to flee Abobo. According to a witness, it was the FRCI (Forces Republicaines de Cote d’Ivoire, or Republican Forces of Ivory Coast) who maintained security in Abobo between February and March 2011. On March 3, the day of the demonstration, the rebels were holding Abobo. The chief of defense staff explained that the FDS were confined to the military camp and could not go out. The CeCOS (centre de commandement des opérations de sécurité, or command center for security operations) commander confirmed that the Commando camp was the only place where there were gendarmes in Abobo in March 2011. If the Prosecutor had listened to her own witnesses, she would not have stated that there were FDS in Abobo who were able to carry out military operations,” she 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 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.