Salone News

Charles Taylor Goes On Trial Monday

1 June 2007 at 23:25 | 245 views

By Jonathan Leigh in Freetown and Teddy Foday-Musa at the Hague.

Special Court for Sierra Leone said on Thursday it
shall be screening live in Freetown the trial of
Charles Taylor which opens at The Hague on Monday.
A statement from The Hague says his trial will provide
an important opportunity for victims to see justice
done.

Two weeks ago, Justice El Hadji Malick Sow, a
Senegalese, was sworn in as alternate Judge of the
Court’s trial Chamber. In accordance with article
12(4) of the statue of the Special Court, Justice Sow
will be present at each stage of the trial and will
replace a judge if that judge is unable to continue
sitting.

Mr. Taylor’s trial will be presided over by Justice
Julia Sebutinde of Uganda, Justice Richard Lussick of
Samoa and Justice Teresa Doherty of Northern Ireland.
Justice Doherty prior to her appointment served as
High Court Judge in Sierra Leone on contract from the
Commonwealth.

Also, a new defence team will be representing Mr.
Taylor at Monday’s trial as almost two months ago his
leading defence Lawyer, Karim Khan from Pakistan
stepped down.

Kahn told a news conference at the premises of the
Special Court for Sierra Leone in Freetown that he
wasn’t happy with surveillance cameras planted at Mr.
Taylor’s detention facility at The Hague.

In a similar development, the court says it shall
deliver its first Judgement on the trial of AFRC
indictees on June 20.Ibrahim ‘Bazzy’ Kamara, Alex Tamba Brima and Santigie Kanu alias Brig 5-5 are on trial for atrocities committed by the military junta which briefly seized power on May 25 1997 until February 1998 when they
were ousted by a multinational military force led by
Nigeria.A fourth indictee, the Leader of the Junta, Johnny
Paul Koroma is still at large.

Meanwhile a Human Rights Watch press release issued at the Hague on Thursday states that the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor for war crimes committed during Sierra Leone’s 11-year brutal armed conflict "sends a strong signal that no one is above the law." Taylor’s trial by the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone will provide an important chance for victims to see justice done, the organization observed.

The trial of a former president associated with human rights abuses across West Africa, the release went on, represents a break from the past. "All too often, there has been no justice for victims of serious human rights violations. Taylor’s trial puts would-be perpetrators on notice."

Human Rights Watch has done and continues to do extensive research on human rights abuses in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Photos: Charles Taylor, on his first court appearnce in Freetown a couple of months ago, before his transfer to the Hague.

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