Thursday, April 26, 2012
The Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) has found Charles Ghankay Taylor guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in connection with 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including terror, murder, rape, and conscripting child soldiers.
Taylor became President of Liberia in 1997. He was indicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone in June 2003. Taylor stepped down as president (and then went into hiding) in August 2003.
Taylor sought to quash the indictment and avoid any exercise of jurisdiction by the SCSL solely because he was a sitting head of state at the time of his indictment. The SCSL Trial Chamber denied his motion and the SCSL Appeals Chamber upheld that decision in May 2004. The Appeals Chamber held that the sovereign equality of states does not prevent a head of state from being prosecuted before an international tribunal.
Taylor was arrested by Nigerian authorities in Nigeria in March 2006, following a request from Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf that Nigeria turn him over to the Special Court. He was transferred to Sierra Leone and arraigned in April 2006, when he pleaded not guilty to all counts in the indictment. Because of security concerns, his trial was transferred to The Hague. The Special Court for Sierra Leone used one of the courtrooms in the International Criminal Court to hold the trial.