Peter De Jong / Pool via EPA
Laurent Gbagbo, center, is accused of crimes against humanity in the aftermath of Ivory Coast's disputed presidential elections in November 2010.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Ivory Coast's ex-president appeared at the International Criminal Court Monday, becoming the first former head of state to face judges at the world's first permanent war crimes court. Laurent Gbagbo vowed to fight the charges against him.
Gbagbo, 66, was calm and smiled at supporters in the public gallery as the 25-minute hearing opened. He told judges he did not need them to read the charges.
Gbagbo was extradited to the Netherlands last week to face charges including murder and rape committed by supporters as he attempted to cling to power.
Prosecutors say about 3,000 people died in violence by both sides after Gbagbo refused to concede electoral defeat.
A four-month war that displaced more than a million people erupted when when he refused to accept the results of the November 2010 election.
President Alassane Ouattara took power in April with the help of French and U.N. forces.
The former president, speaking in French, said he wanted to see the evidence against him.
Former Ivory coast President Laurent Gbagbo is now in the custody of his challenger Alassane Ouattra - and he's asked the United Nations for protection. Mr Gbagbo had barricaded himself inside a bunker at his presidential palace in Abidjan for days, resisting all efforts to negotiate his surrender. John Sparks, Channel 4 Europe reports
"I will challenge that evidence and then you hand down your judgment," he told the three-judge panel.
Gbagbo also complained about his arrest by opposition forces backed by French troops in April, saying he saw his son beaten and his interior minister killed in the fighting.
"I was the president of the republic and the residence of the president of the republic was shelled," he said.
He also complained about his transfer to The Hague last week from the north of Ivory Coast where he was under house arrest.
"We were deceived," he said. "Things could have been done in a more regular manner."
Monday's brief hearing was scheduled to confirm Gbagbo's identity and ensure he understood his rights and the charges.
Presiding judge Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi of Argentina scheduled a hearing for June 18 next year at which prosecutors will have to present a summary of their evidence and judges will decide whether it is strong enough to merit committing Gbagbo for trial.
Hundreds of people were kidnapped and killed in a crackdown by Gbagbo's forces following last year's contested election, sparking a war that only ended when Ouattara's French-backed rebel forces captured Gbagbo in April.
But Ouattara's forces were also behind some of the atrocities, including rapes and executions, as they swept toward the coast from their northern stronghold.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.