Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo pleads not guilty at the International Criminal Court to crimes against humanity and war crimes, in the court's first trial of a former head of state. Mana Rabiee reports.
Rape, murder, persecution... these are the charges faced by former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo (law-RAW(n) BAHG-boh) at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. And he's pleading not guilty to all of them. Prosecutors accuse Gbagbo of stoking post-election violence in 2011 (FILE) that left 3,000 people dead... in months of civil war that started when Gbagbo refused to step down after losing the elections. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ICC CHIEF PROSECUTOR, FATOU BENSOUDA, SAYING: "He used mercenaries to attack civilians. He used youth groups and militia... to attack civilians." The fighting in this former French colony only ended after France intervened militarily and the election's winner - Alassane Ouattara (al-ah-SAHN WAH-tah-rah) -- was allowed to take office. In the Ivory Coast capital, Abidjan, people are glued to their screens, watching the trial. Some here see Gbagbo as an arch-villian who murdered his own people. Others say he's a national hero who really WON the election and is being punished for standing up to their former colonial power. (SOUNDBITE) (French) SUPPORTER OF FORMER IVORY COAST PRESIDENT LAURENT GBAGBO, ELENE SIE, SAYING: "Gbagbo is innocent. It is the Westerners who locked him up but Gbagbo did nothing. They don't want him to govern." Hundreds of Gbagbo's supporters have protested the trial outside the criminal court. They say it's biased. As it's the ICC's first trial against a former head of state -- many are watching closely... to see if his supporters are right.