The new courthouse building of the Special Court for Sierra Leone was officially opened today in the capital, Freetown, before an audience of national and international dignitaries.
In a message delivered by the United Nations Legal Counsel Hans Corell on his last mission before leaving the post, Secretary-General Kofi Annan described the Special Court as "a vital part of the healing process following a tragic and devastating period of conflict."
Mr. Annan also urged the Court to "complete its work expeditiously and, in so far as it is possible, within its three-year mandate."
The nearly-completed $3.4 million courthouse building will serve as the venue for the Special Court's trials.
The Special Court - the first of its kind in the world - was set up through an agreement between the UN and Sierra Leone to try those people who bear "the greatest responsibility" for atrocities committed during Sierra Leone's brutal civil war. So far the Court has issued indictments against 11 individuals, including Charles Taylor, the former President of Liberia.