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Vol 50 No 15

Published 24th July 2009


Liberia

Charles Taylor gets his day in Court

Ex-President Charles Taylor's trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity will reverberate across Africa, especially those countries such as Congo-Kinshasa, Uganda and Sudan, whose politicians and rebel leaders face indictment by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. The relaying of television images showing Charles Taylor in the dock answering charges of crimes against humanity is concentrating minds, notably that of the African Union Chairman, Libya's Moammar el Gadaffi who trained and armed Taylor's soldiers.

At last, Charles Taylor gets his day in court. He took the stand before the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) for the first time on 14 July to testify in his own defence. His trial is taking place in The Hague, Netherlands, rather than in Sierra Leone, for security reasons. Taylor, President of Liberia from 1997 to 2003, is likely to be in the witness box for several weeks. His lead counsel, Courtenay Griffiths, QC, is one of Britain's most experienced criminal defence lawyers, having taken on several murder and terrorism cases. Taylor claims, among other grievances, that he is a victim of Western racism.

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