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Last Updated: Monday, 24 April 2006, 12:33 GMT 13:33 UK
Dutch trial seeks ex-Liberia head
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor
Charles Taylor is being held in Sierra Leone
Lawyers for a Dutch timber trader accused of arms trafficking are calling for Liberia's former leader Charles Taylor to give evidence at his trial.

Guus Kouwenhoven, 63, faces war crimes charges in The Hague for allegedly trading wood for weapons with Mr Taylor, breaking a UN arms embargo.

Mr Taylor faces war crimes charges himself and is in the custody of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

He was barred from buying weapons before his fall in 2003.

'Key witness'

Judges at the new domestic war crimes chamber at The Hague district court said discussions were under way on whether Charles Taylor would testify.

Mr Kouwenhoven's lawyer described him as a key witness.

The defendant denies the charges against him and told the Dutch ANP news agency he was the "victim of political posturing".

Child soldier in Liberia
"Blood timber" is said to have fuelled the conflict in Liberia

The BBC's Geraldine Coughlan, in The Hague, says the arrest of Mr Kouwenhoven in Rotterdam last year brought into focus the worldwide trafficking of so-called "blood timber".

Like "blood diamonds", wood has allegedly fuelled recent conflicts in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The prosecution claims that Mr Kouwenhoven was part of Mr Taylor's inner circle and headed timber companies in Liberia during the 1990s.

The Special Court in Sierra Leone has asked the Netherlands to host the trial of Mr Taylor at the International Criminal Court.

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