War crimes trial of former Liberian leader at UN-backed tribunal to start Monday
The war crimes trial of Charles Taylor, the notorious former Liberian president, begins on Monday with opening arguments in The Hague before the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL).
Mr. Taylor faces 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.
The trial is expected to last until December 2008, with a judgement likely by mid-2009. Prosecutors have indicated they plan to call up to 139 core witnesses.
A year ago the Security Council authorized the staging of Mr. Taylor’s trial at The Hague in the Netherlands, 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 was established on 16 January 2002 by an agreement between the Government of Sierra Leone and the UN and is mandated to try “those who bear greatest responsibility” for war crimes and crimes against community committed in the country after 30 November 1996. So far 11 people have been indicted.