Sierra Leone Court Says Has Right to Prosecute Taylor

By Christo Johnson

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (Reuters) – Sierra Leone’s U.N.-backed war crimes court ruled Monday that it had the right to try former Liberian President Charles Taylor for his alleged role in a brutal decade-long civil war.

…The court dismissed an appeal by Taylor who said he should be entitled to immunity as he had been a serving head of state at the time of his indictment last year.

Taylor is accused of providing financial and military support to rebels in Sierra Leone who became notorious for hacking off civilians’ limbs, in return for access to the former British colony’s diamond fields.

…Taylor’s lawyers had also argued during his appeal that the court had no jurisdiction outside Sierra Leone. They requested his indictment be quashed and an international arrest warrant be declared null and void.

But the court, where United Nations and local judges sit side by side, argued it was an international tribunal.

“The principle seems now established that the sovereign equality of states does not prevent a head of state from being prosecuted before an international criminal tribunal or court,” the court’s appeals chamber said in its ruling.
Reuters article

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