Cote d'Ivoire: For the Prosecution, This Trial Must Proceed to the End

After several months, the joint trial of Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé resumed Monday, October 1, 2018 in The Hague. Over the course of five days, the different parties will submit their arguments regarding the request for dismissal filed by the defense teams.

Proceedings resumed this Monday, October 1, 2018 in The Hague, headquarters of the International Criminal Court (ICC), in the trial of Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé.

After several months, Laurent Gbagbo, Charles Blé Goudé, and the members of the court have resumed proceedings. Over the course of five days, they will submit their arguments on the defense motion for termination of the trial.

From the outset, Deputy Prosecutor James Stewart clearly articulated the prosecution's insistence on continuing with the proceedings until their completion.

"Given the nature and volume of the evidence presented by the Prosecution, we submit that it is advisable that this case be the subject of a determination as to its merits, in the interest of the victims of the alleged crimes, of the population of Côte d'Ivoire, of the whole of the international community (... ), this trial must be completed. We must not allow requests to drop charges and this trial must continue until the end," Stewart submitted.

The ICC "has very limited experience with this type of request for the dropping of charges, he noted. "The Court will ultimately have to consider this issue in the light of its own status and the purpose of a request for insufficient evidence in the context of its own proceedings. Midway through the procedure is there any evidence that would allow any Trial Chamber to pronounce a conviction? We submit that the answer to this question is affirmative."

Gbagbo Issued Orders

Eric MacDonald, Senior Trial Lawyer for the Prosecution, argued that Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé are indeed responsible for crimes committed during the 2010-2011 crisis.

"We believe that the evidence clearly demonstrates that these acts deserve that the Chamber refer this case to the next stage of the proceedings," he told the judges.

MacDonald reviewed evidence related to the charges against Laurent Gbagbo. Regarding the women's march in Abobo, he rejected the defense's argument that armed individuals took part in the protest, during which seven women were killed.

"It was a peaceful march without the presence of an armed group. No witness said he saw an armed man or woman. All eyewitnesses testified to the peaceful nature of this event. They said it was women who were part of that march," MacDonald said.

The prosecution further argued that Laurent Gbagbo bears full responsibility for the bombing of the Siaka Koné market.

"The March order to fire mortar shells at Abobo came from Mr. Gbagbo. Although there is no direct evidence of these orders, there is no other reasonable conclusion we can draw from the circumstances" said the lawyer.

According to the prosecution, the evidence shows that Mr. Gbagbo authorized the Chief of Staff to fire 14-mm shells and he requisitioned the army with all its means. The Chief of Staff said they used them in Abidjan for singeing and a shot of arrest.

Regarding Charles Blé Goudé, MacDonald referred to remarks the former Young Patriots leader made at a meeting at the Baron in Yopougon. According to the prosecution, this speech triggered the violence against the population of the Doukouré district, described by the prosecution as "predominantly pro-Ouattara."

"Blé Goudé was well aware that his incendiary remarks, by which he stigmatized foreigners, would lead to acts of violence against the people of Doukouré and beyond," he said.

The hearing continues on Tuesday, October 2, 2018.

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