Judges at UN-backed court dismiss motion to acquit Charles Taylor

Judges at UN-backed court dismiss motion to acquit Charles Taylor

The Special Court for Sierra Leone
Judges at the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone have rejected a request to acquit the former President of Liberia, Charles Taylor, on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Judges at the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone have rejected a request to acquit the former President of Liberia, Charles Taylor, on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Mr. Taylor’s lawyers had filed a motion for him to be acquitted, arguing that the Prosecution had not presented sufficient evidence to support a conviction in the case, which is being tried in The Hague. But the judges ruled that there was evidence on which Mr. Taylor could be convicted, and dismissed the motion.

“The Trial Chamber finds that there is evidence that the accused participated in the joint criminal enterprise,” Justice Richard Lissick said in reading out the Chamber’s decision.

They ordered that Mr. Taylor’s lawyers open their case on 29 June. Mr. Taylor is expected to take the stand in his own defence.

The former President has pleaded not guilty to the 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, which include pillage, slavery for forced marriage purposes, collective punishment, and the recruitment and use of child soldiers. The charges relate to his alleged support for two rebel groups in neighbouring Sierra Leone, the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council and the Revolutionary United Front, during the civil war from 1996 to 2002.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone was established in January 2002 by an agreement between Sierra Leone’s Government and the UN. It cannot impose a life sentence, but it has already sentenced two defendants in another case to 50 years in jail. Britain has said it would be willing to imprison Mr. Taylor if he is found guilty.

In 2006, the UN Security Council authorized Mr. Taylor’s trial to be held in The Hague, Netherlands, instead of its usual venue in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, citing security reasons.