Ivory Coast ex-leader's trial opens
Former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo clung to power "by all means" war crimes prosecutors said yesterday, as his long-awaited trial opened five years after post-poll violence wracked his west African nation.
Gbagbo became the first ex-head of state to stand in the dock at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, in a case which will test the tribunal's avowed aim to deliver justice to the victims of the world's worst crimes.
Prosecutors accuse Gbagbo and his co-accused Charles Ble Goude of orchestrating a plan to ensure he stayed in power even before he was narrowly defeated by his bitter rival Alassane Ouattara in November 2010 elections.
Both Gbagbo, 70, and Ble Goude, 44, pleaded not guilty to four charges of crimes against humanity including murder, rape, and persecution in the five-months bloodshed in which some 3,000 people were killed.
"Nothing would be allowed to defeat Mr Gbagbo, and if politics failed, violence was seen as politics by other means," chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told a three-judge bench.
Prosecutors have gathered a "vast body of evidence against the two accused," Bensouda said including hours of video footage as well as forensic and ballistic evidence.