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Taylor trial comes to an end – verdict expected in the coming months

Charles Ghankay Taylor, the former President of Liberia, was indicted under seal on 7 March 2003 while in office. The indictment was announced on 4 June 2003 on his first trip outside of Liberia. In August 2003 Taylor resigned as president and went into exile in Nigeria. He was transferred to the Special Court for Sierra Leone on 29 March 2006. Due to concerns about regional security were the trial to be held in Sierra Leone, the Special Court arranged for the trial to be held at The Hague, first at the ICC premises and later on at the premises of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Eventually, Taylor was transferred to The Hague on 30 June 2006. He was charged with large-scale atrocities committed by rebels under his command. His 11-count indictment includes crimes against humanity, violations of Article 3 Common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law. For a summary of the charges against Taylor read here.

The Prosecution opened their case on 4 June 2007. Charles Taylor boycotted the proceedings and dismissed his legal team. The trial was adjourned until new counsel could be assigned. The Prosecution opened witness testimony on 7 January 2008. The Prosecution formally closed their case on 27 February 2009 after having presented testimony from 91 witnesses. On 4 May 2009 the Trial Chamber dismissed in its entirety a Motion for Judgment of Acquittal brought by the Defence. The Defence opened their case on 13 July 2009, and concluded on 12 November 2010 after calling 20 witnesses, including Taylor. He has denied all the charges against him and dismissed the trial as a political event. Arguments ended on Friday, 11 March 2011, and the bench, composed of three international judges, is expected to take months before delivering their verdict.

The case against the first African president to face criminal proceedings before an internationalised tribunal has produced plenty of courtroom drama, multiple delays in the proceedings, including the fashionably late appearance of Campbell to give her testimony, ignored deadlines (one resulting in the non-admission by the court of the Defence’s final brief), and the staging of several boycotts. If Taylor is found guilty by the court, he will serve his sentence in a British jail.

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