Ex-President of Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo has denied charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, as his first trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The 70- year-old ex-president together with 44 years old ex-militia leader, Charles Ble Goude both denied murder, rape, attempted murder and persecution charges leveled against them.
The charges, leveled against them are in relation to the country's civil conflict that erupted after Mr Gbagbo lost elections in 2010.Prosecutors accuse him both of them for orchestrating a "campaign of violence".
At his first trial at the Hague, Laurent Gbagbo who seemed unsteady and leaned on his desk often, pleaded not guilty. His co-accused, Charles Ble Goude, gave a more defiant response, telling the judges: "I do not recognise the charges."
Prosecutors said Mr Ble Goude had acted as a spin doctor. He called himself the "street general". Archive footage played in court showed him comparing himself to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's media adviser, Alastair Campbell.
Chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda used her opening statement to focus on the victims. She spoke of one woman who was arrested during a peaceful march in Abidjan and detained for three days. During that time, Ms Bensouda said, the woman were gang-raped by police officers - the very people who were supposed to protect her.
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.His decision resulted in bloody clashes between rival forces over five months in 2010 and 2011.
Some 3,000 people were killed, with Mr Gbagbo basing himself in the presidential palace. He was arrested in April 2011 by forces loyal to President Ouattara, backed by troops from former colonial power France, and later that year was extradited to The Hague.
Mr. Gbagbo’s trial at the court in The Hague, in the Netherlands, could last three or four years. This will be the highest-profile trial yet for the ICC, which has only convicted two Congolese warlords since its establishment in 2002.