Taylor trial gets underway 07 Jan 2008
Six months after proceedings in the case were suspended, the landmark trial of the former Liberian President, Charles Taylor, has recommenced in The Hague.

Charles Taylor / Photo taken 7 January 2008 / Reuters / Michael Kooren - © REUTERS  On Monday, 7 January 2008, the long-awaited trial of Charles Taylor – the first African former head of state to appear before an international tribunal – resumed in earnest before Trial Chamber II of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) sitting in The Hague.

The former Liberian President, who sought exile in Nigeria following the issuance of an arrest warrant against him in June 2003, was arrested and transferred into the custody of the Special Court on 29 March 2006.

In total, Charles Taylor faces 11 charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and violations of international humanitarian law. These alleged crimes include murder, rape, sexual slavery, enslavement and the use of child soldiers – actions carried out by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels during the civil war in Sierra Leone from 1991 to 2001.

After an inauspicious beginning involving a string of technical delays, the first witness to appear for prosecution was a Canadian conflict- or “blood-diamonds” expert who had followed the illegal sales of such diamonds to fund wars across the African continent. The witness will be followed by a victim of one of the notorious militia in Sierra Leone during the conflict and then later in the week by a former member of Taylor’s “inner circle”.

In total, some 140 witnesses will submit evidence for the Prosecution in the case although only half this number is expected to appear in person. Of the dozens of witnesses who will be called to attest to the link between the accused and the RUF, the majority are expected to testify anonymously for their own security.

The trial is expected to last between 18-24 months with the prospect of an appeal meaning the case could continue into 2010.

Special Court for Sierra Leone
Live video streaming of the trial

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