BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Languages
Last Updated: Thursday, 22 June 2006, 10:55 GMT 11:55 UK
Taylor trial may start next year
Charles Taylor (Photo: Special Court for Sierra Leone)
Charles Taylor has pleaded not guilty to charges of war crimes
The trial of Liberian ex-President Charles Taylor could start in The Hague in January 2007, an official says.

Harpinder Athwal, from the prosecution team at a UN-backed war crimes court, told the BBC that is the date they are currently working towards.

However, she said the date may change, depending on how quickly the defence prepares its case and whether new judges are needed.

Mr Taylor denies 11 war crimes charges, related to Sierra Leone's civil war.

He was transferred to the Netherlands on Tuesday, due to fears that putting him on trial in Sierra Leone could lead to renewed conflict.

Both Sierra Leone and Liberia are trying to rebuild after a decade of interlinked wars, in which Mr Taylor played a central role.

'Creative'

Meanwhile, the chairman of Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has told the BBC that he would like Mr Taylor to give "his side of the story" to their hearings.

Jerome Verdier said he did not expect Mr Taylor to appear in person but said that "creative" ways could be found.

TAYLOR TIMELINE
1989: Launches rebellion
1991: RUF rebellion starts in Sierra Leone
1995: Peace deal signed
1997: Elected president
1999: Lurd starts rebellion to oust Taylor
June 2003: Arrest warrant issued
August 2003: Steps down, goes into exile in Nigeria
March 2006: Arrested, sent to Sierra Leone

He was speaking ahead of the formal launch of the TRC in the Liberian capital, Monrovia.

The seven-member commission does not have the power to try cases but will investigate crimes committed between 1979 and 2003, when civil war ended.

After a decade of instability, Mr Taylor launched a rebellion in 1989, before winning elections in 1997.

In February, Mrs Johnson-Sirleaf said it was important that the "truth is told".

Mutilations

Ms Athwal, special assistant for the prosecution at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, said they had handed over 32,000 pages of evidence to Mr Taylor's defence team.

She said that more judges may have to be appointed, if one of the trials currently underway does not finish this year.

Amputees playing football in Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone rebels hacked of civilians' arms and legs
If Mr Taylor is convicted, the UK has agreed to host any jail term he may serve.

The Dutch government agreed Mr Taylor's trial could take place in The Hague, as long as he is imprisoned in another country if he was convicted.

The tribunal's chief prosecutor once described Mr Taylor as the third most wanted war crimes suspect in the world.

The trial is due to take place in the facilities of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, but legal officials from the Special Court for Sierra Leone will conduct proceedings.

Mr Taylor is accused of funding Sierra Leone's former rebels, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) by selling diamonds on their behalf and buying weapons for them.

The RUF were notorious for mutilating civilians, by hacking off their arms or legs with machetes.

Mr Taylor is the first African former head of state to go on trial at an international war crimes court.




RELATED BBC LINKS

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific