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Last Updated: Monday, 31 May, 2004, 11:52 GMT 12:52 UK
Taylor loses war crimes appeal
Liberian ex-President Charles Taylor
Taylor has been living in exile in Nigeria since last year
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor has lost his appeal against being prosecuted for war crimes.

The UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone ruled that it does have the right to try Mr Taylor for his alleged role in the 10-year Sierra Leone civil war.

Mr Taylor had argued that he should be entitled to immunity because he was a serving head of state.

He is now in exile in Nigeria after stepping down as Liberia's president last August.

Mr Taylor is accused of backing the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels who were notorious for hacking off the limbs of civilians in Sierra Leone during the war, which ended in 2002.

He now faces 17 charges of crimes against humanity and other breaches of international law.

Blood and diamonds

Mr Taylor's lawyers appealed even before his trial had begun.

Among their arguments, they said the court was a national body and therefore its jurisdiction did not extend beyond Sierra Leone.

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: Goes into exile

The prosecution says Mr Taylor backed the RUF in exchange for diamonds worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

An estimated 50,000 people were killed during a decade of fighting and many thousands more were mutilated.

The court says it is now up to Nigeria to hand over the former Liberian leader.

He has been living in exile in the south Nigerian city of Calabar since stepping down last August as part of a deal to end his own country's civil war.

His lawyers say he has no plans to leave.

Nigeria has previously rejected calls him to extradite Mr Taylor, saying giving him asylum was the only way to end 14 years of fighting in Liberia.


SEE ALSO:
Nigeria rules out Taylor arrest
05 Dec 03  |  Africa
Taylor's new Nigerian home
11 Aug 03  |  Africa
Taylor speaks out from exile
13 Apr 04  |  Africa
Timeline: Liberia
12 Mar 04  |  Country profiles


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