Former Ivory Coast president pleads not guilty to war crimes

[JURIST] Former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] on Thursday pleaded not guilty to charges of crimes against humanity at the start of his trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website]. Gbagbo faces four charges of crimes against humanity for murder, attempted murder, rape and persecution during a wave of post-election violence between December 2010 and April 2011. He is charged with [JURIST report] former militia leader Charles Ble Goude, who also denies the charges. This is the first time [BBC report] the ICC has tried a former head of state.

The ICC confirmed the charges against the former Ivory Coast president and referred him for trial in June 2014, after issuing a warrant for Gbagbo's arrest on charges of crimes against humanity [JURIST reports] in November 2011. In November 2010 Gbagbo ran for reelection against former prime minister Alassane Ouattara [BBC profile]. The EU recognized that Ouattara defeated Gbagbo, but Gbagbo refused to concede victory. Gbagbo has been accused [JURIST report] of starting a civil war after losing the presidency, which resulted in 3,000 deaths and one million people displaced. Gbagbo's wife, Simone, also faces charges, involving undermining state security [JURIST report]. In May a panel of appeals judges for the ICC affirmed [JURIST report] a ruling against the former first lady that allows the case to go forward to trial.

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