Tuesday, July 14, 2009
The former president of Liberia, Charles Taylor, took the stand today in his own defense during his trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL). Mr. Taylor has already pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, which include pillage, slavery for forced marriage purposes, collective punishment, and the recruitment of child soldiers. The charges relate to his alleged support for two rebel groups in neighboring Sierra Leone during that country’s civil war from 1996 to 2002.
Mr. Taylor’s defense is expected to last several weeks, and a verdict is not expected until next year.
The SCSL was set up jointly by the Government of Sierra Leone and the UN in 2002. It is mandated to try those who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and national law committed in Sierra Leone since November 30, 1996. The SCSL sits in the Hague (sharing the building that houses the International Criminal Court).