After several weeks of recess, the hearing in the joint trial of Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé resumed Monday, November 12, 2018. Facing the judges, the former Ivorian president’s lawyers took a critical look at the investigation conducted by Fatou Bensouda.
The hearing in the trial for crimes against humanity of Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé resumed in at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on Monday, November 12, 2018. As expected, the defense of the former Ivorian president and his former youth minister appeared before the courtroom to deliver their arguments on why they think there is not enough prosecution evidence to continue the trial.
Led by Emmanuel Altit, Senior Counsel for Gbagbo, the defense strongly criticized the work of ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. “The Prosecutor’s arguments are only based on suppositions. There is no single way for the Prosecutor to demonstrate who the principals were. The narrative of the prosecution is fragile because it is not based on the results of a serious investigation,” said the French lawyer.
Altit accused Bensouda of collusion with the Ivorian authorities in this case. “What she is serving us up is the narrative of the Ivorian authorities. It is a preconceived narrative. The prosecution does not present anything here that has any value as evidence,” he added. “There is no evidence against Gbagbo, these are allegations based on statements by the State of Côte d’Ivoire,” he claimed.
Agatha Baroan, a member of Laurent Gbagbo’s defense team, also questioned the seriousness of Bensouda’s actions. The lawyer also insisted on the Prosecutor’s mistaken perception, according to her, of the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire. “The Prosecutor must not push the communities to the limit with a narrative that sets them against each other. The Prosecutor presents the crisis experienced by our country in a theoretical manner. It is not based on reality. The Prosecutor’s theory is a distorted perception from the beginning,” the lawyer said. She went on to accuse Bensouda of building her case on quicksand, adding that the prosecutor’s delusions risk jeopardizing the ICC and justice in general.
Jennifer Naori, another lawyer and member of the Gbagbo camp, did not say anything else. According to her, “the Prosecutor simply did not investigate independently and professionally. The Prosecutor does not present authentic, traceable and direct evidence that can be authenticated,” she argued.
As a reminder, in previous hearings, the prosecution and the Legal Representative of Victims have presented arguments that they claim justify the continuation of this trial. The defense will present its arguments this week, and then the judges will adjourn to deliberate and decide on the motion.
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.