Former Ivory Coast leader’s trial to begin

The trial of Ivory Coast ex-President Laurent Gbagbo for crimes against humanity is set to begin at the International Criminal Court (ICC).


He faces charges relating to the country’s civil conflict that erupted after he lost elections in 2010.

Mr Gbagbo becomes the first former head of state to stand trial at the court in The Hague.

Both Mr Gbagbo, 70, and his co-accused, former militia leader Charles Ble Goude, 44, say they are innocent.

“The trial is an opportunity for reconciliation,” Mr Gbagbo’s lawyer Emmanuel Altit said. “It is for this reason that he awaits it with confidence.”

A lawyer for Mr Ble Goude, who is accused of organising attacks on opposition supporters, described his client as a “man of peace”

Mr Gbagbo sparked a crisis in Ivory Coast after he refused to step down following his loss to Alassane Ouattara in the 2010 presidential vote.

Some 3,000 people were killed in the civil conflict that ensued, with Mr Gbagbo holing up in the presidential palace.

He was arrested in April 2011, by forces loyal to President Ouattara backed by French troops, and later in that year extradited to The Hague.

It will be the highest-profile trial yet for the ICC, which has only convicted two Congolese warlords since its establishment in 2002.

Mr Gbagbo and Mr Ble Goude are accused of four charges – murder, rape, attempted murder and persecution.

Source: BBC