Jean-Pierre Bemba, the former vice-president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, has been accused of using systematic rape as a weapon of war in the Central African Republic.
Mr Bemba (46) listened to the accusations apparently unmoved, occasionally passing notes to his defence team.
Just helping a friend
According to the charges, Mr Bemba's Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) had instructed its militias to rape, murder, torture and plunder while they were in the Central African Republic in 2002 and 2003 to support President Ange-Félix Patassé, who was facing a rebellion led by general François Bozizé. That rebellion ultimately succeeded, and when Mr Bozizé had become president, he asked the International Criminal Court to investigate allegations of war crimes carried out by his erstwhile opponents.
Mr Bemba's defence lawyers say he was merely coming to the aid of a democratically elected head of state, which is far from a punishable crime. Moreover, Mr Bemba was not in command of the MLC militias at the time, they claim.
Plundering and raping
ICC Prosecutor Bensouda continued on Monday: "Bemba's men went from door to door, plundering civilian properties, raping mothers, wives and daughters, sodomising village leaders and other men, killing those who resisted or tried to protect themselves. Countless of them died, either being killed directly or because they were raped and infected with HIV."
Last year, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo stated: "We cannot bring back those who were killed or died of AIDS after being violated, but I am hopeful that we will bring justice for the victims."
Mr Bemba was arrested in Brussels in May 2008 in accordance with an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court.