Ladies and gentlemen,
I thank you for your interest and presence.
With me here today is Mr. Eric MacDonald, Senior Trial Lawyer for the Prosecution in the upcoming trial against Messrs. Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé.
Before we answer questions from journalists, I'd like to say a few words to the people of Côte d'Ivoire.
Firstly, I would like to stress that the purpose of the trial which starts tomorrow is to uncover the truth through purely a legal process.
Over the next months, my Prosecution team will present its case that the accused are guilty of crimes against humanity. Our case is based on the law as set out in the Rome Statute - the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court ("ICC" or the "Court') – and on the strength of the evidence our investigations have gathered.
The Defence team will argue against our case, on behalf of Messrs. Gbagbo and Blé Goudé. The victims' representatives will bring their views and concerns to bear at all stages of the trial.
Finally, the ICC judges will reinforce the fairness and expeditiousness of the proceedings and ultimately decide whether the accused are guilty or innocent. This is how independent and impartial justice works at the ICC, and how the truth will be determined.
In the meantime, I would like to warn you to beware of untruths. Unfortunately, some rumours are already circulating which are misleading to the general public in Côte d'Ivoire and beyond. My Office, in coordination with relevant organs of the Court, will do everything possible to provide you with accurate and up to date information regularly during the course of the trial, particularly via the official website of the ICC at www.icc-cpi.int.
Let me set the record straight right now about a number of falsehoods which are already circulating on social media:
no prosecution witnesses have been withdrawing from the case;
the Prosecution is ready for trial; contrary to rumours, we have never sought to postpone the date of this trial. We are confident that the evidence we have collected will meet the threshold required to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.
Falsehoods do not serve the ends of justice and are an affront to the suffering of the victims of the serious crimes at the centre of this case. The truth is what the public deserves and the victims demand. The Court, will be ready to provide you accurate and updated information as this important trial progresses.
I reiterate that the purpose of the trial is to uncover the truth, for the sake of doing justice for the victims; and to prevent mass atrocities recurring in the future.
Let me be clear once again, the ICC was established to end impunity for the gravest crimes as listed in the Rome Statute, no matter the rank, wealth, position of power or political affiliation of those who commit these crimes. The public profile of the Accused does not alter the fact that they must face justice.
We are here for the victims and for the truth, to ensure that the ICC's mandate is implemented. At this juncture, let me conclude by also clearly reaffirming that our investigations in Côte d'Ivoire continue. My Office will leave no stone unturned as we seek to ensure justice and accountability on all sides. That is what the Office's legal mandate requires, that is what the victims deserve, and that is what the Prosecution is most committed to and is working to achieve.
I thank you for your attention.OTPNewsDesk@icc-cpi.int