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Ivory Coast: ex-president denies war crimes


Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast: ex-president denies war crimes

  • Ex-Ivory Coast leader on trial in The Hague
  • Pleads not guilty to war crimes, crimes against humanity
  • “Landmark” trial could last four years

The news

The former President of Ivory Coast has denied charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity on the first day of his trial at the International Criminal Court.

70-year-old Laurent Gbagbo lost the election in the country in 2010.

The charges relate to the civil unrest that erupted afterwards, in which an estimated 3,000 people were killed.

Violence broke out after Mr Gbagbo refused to accept losing. France intervened after four months and he was finally succeeded by his rival, Alessane Ouattara.

The former militia leader, 44-year-old Charles Ble Goude, is also on trial in the Hague.

He also denies the charges.

“Victor’s justice”

Mr Gbagbo’s supporters accuse the court of the selective prosecution of the former president and his allies.

They also say he is being punished for standing up to the former colonial power,
France.

Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda says she has “intensified” investigations into the pro-Outtara camp.

Crowds of Mr Gbagbo’s supporters gathered outside the court building in the Hague.

About the ICC

  • The hearing could last up to four years
  • Mr Gbagbo is the first former head of state to stand trial. Analysts say this is testament to the court’s growing influence
  • The court was set up in 2002
  • Only two convictions have been handed down so far
  • Opened its first case outside Africa on Wednesday, an inquiry into the 2008 Russia-Georgia conflict
  • This is being seen as the highest-profile case in ICC history so far

This is being seen as a test case for the global war crimes court.

What they are saying

“There has been a parody of justice here. Somebody has been in prison for five years with no proof.” – former Gbagbo adviser Abdon Bayeto.

“A man of peace” – Mr Ble Goude’s lawyer describes his client.

“I am from Duekoue. There was a genocide there. It is Soro’s fault, but (ICC prosecutor) Bensouda defends him.” – pro-Gbagbo protester outside court.

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