Former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo goes on trial Thursday charged with crimes against humanity, as five years after 3,000 people died in post-election unrest his supporters and foes hope to finally uncover the truth behind the crisis.
In his highly-anticipated trial which has been beset by several delays, Gbagbo becomes the first ex-head of state to stand in the dock at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
Prosecutors accuse the one-time west African strongman of devising a plan to cling to power at all costs in the world’s top cocoa producer after being defeated by his bitter rival Alassane Ouattara in a democratic election in November 2010.
Gbagbo, 70, and his close ally and former militia leader Charles Ble Goude, 44, will enter pleas to four charges of crimes against humanity including murder, rape, and persecution.
Both the prosecutors and defence lawyers vowed on the eve of the trial—which could last three to four years—that they will seek to lift the veil on what became a bloody five-month crisis.
“The purpose of the trial is to uncover the truth through a purely legal process,” said ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. Read more