UN News Service, New York
After a delay of more than four months, the war crimes trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor resumed today at the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL).
Mr. Taylor is facing 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international humanitarian law – including mass murder, mutilations, rape, sexual slavery and the use of child soldiers – for his role in the decade-long civil war that engulfed Sierra Leone, which borders Liberia.
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him. The trial began in The Hague last June, but was postponed in August to give defence lawyers more time to evaluate some 40,000 pages of evidence disclosed by prosecutors.
In 2006, the Security Council authorized the staging of Mr. Taylor’s trial at The Hague, citing reasons of security and expediency. Although the trial will be held at the premises of the International Criminal Court (ICC), it will remain under the exclusive jurisdiction of the SCSL.
The Special Court, established in January 2002 by an agreement between the Sierra Leonean Government and the UN, is mandated to try “those who bear greatest responsibility” for war crimes and crimes against community committed in the country after 30 November 1996. Last July, it reached an agreement with the British Government whereby Mr. Taylor will serve out his sentence in the United Kingdom if he is convicted.