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Last Updated: Monday, 25 June 2007, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
Liberia's Taylor trial adjourned
Charles Taylor (archive)
Charles Taylor has said the court is not 'fit for purpose'
The war crimes trial of Liberia's ex-President Charles Taylor has been adjourned until 3 July.

The delay is to appoint a defence team after Mr Taylor sacked his lawyer. Mr Taylor is boycotting The Hague trial, saying he will not get a fair hearing.

He is accused of backing rebels in Sierra Leone in an 11-year campaign that killed thousand of civilians. He denies all the charges.

It is the first case of its kind against an African former leader.

Acts of terrorism (WC)
Murder (CAH)
Violence to life, in particular murder (WC)
Rape (CAH)
Sexual slavery and violence (CAH)
Outrages upon personal dignity (WC)
Violence to life, in particular cruel treatment (WC)
Other inhumane acts (CAH)
Use of child soldiers (VHL)
Enslavement (CAH)
Pillage (WC)

CAH: Crime against humanity
WC: War crime
VIHL: Violation of international humanitarian law

Before Monday's session, court official Vincent Nmehielle said Mr Taylor had called him to say he would not attend the court until he was provided with enough resources to match those available to the prosecution.

The court heard that meant the appointment of higher-calibre lawyers, and what was referred to as a Scotland Yard - or CIA-type investigator to help the defence team.

The prosecution objected, saying Mr Taylor had tried to delay proceedings by waiting until the start of the trial before sacking his first lawyer; he should not be allowed to benefit from a situation of his own making.

But presiding judge Julia Sebutinde ruled that adequate resources had to be provided to the defence and said the court's registry had not moved quickly enough to ensure those were in place.

'Not guilty'

When the trial opened on 4 June, Mr Taylor also refused to attend court, saying in a letter to judges that he did not believe he would get a fair hearing. He also said he was sacking his lawyer, Karim Khan

Mr Taylor has been indicted on 11 charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and violations of international humanitarian law over his alleged role in the brutal civil war in Sierra Leone.

1989: Launches rebellion
1991: RUF rebellion starts in Sierra Leone
1995: Peace deal signed
1997: Elected president
1999: Liberia's Lurd rebels start insurrection to oust Taylor
June 2003: Arrest warrant issued
August 2003: Steps down, goes into exile in Nigeria

The charges include terrorising the civilian population, murder, sexual violence, physical violence, using child soldiers, enslavement and looting.

Mr Taylor pleaded not guilty to all the charges when he appeared in court in Freetown, Sierra Leone, in March 2006.

The trial was moved to The Hague because of fears it could lead to renewed tensions within Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone has been approved by both the UN and the government of Sierra Leone.

'Blood diamonds'

Mr Taylor started Liberia's civil war in 1989 and became one of a number of warlords competing for control in the West African country.

He later emerged as Liberia's most powerful politician and won the 1997 presidential election.

Meanwhile in 1991, one of Mr Taylor's comrades-in-arms, Foday Sankoh, started his own rebellion in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

The prosecution claims Mr Taylor provided the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) leader with training, money, fighters, arms and ammunition to start the rebellion.

The RUF became notorious for hacking off the hands and legs of civilians during their decade-long war.

It is alleged that Mr Taylor shared a common plan with the RUF's commanders to gain power and control over Sierra Leone, so he could gain access to its diamonds and have a government in Freetown that would support his aims.

Mr Taylor lost power in 2003 after rival militias rose up and forced him into exile in Nigeria.

He was deported by Nigeria last year in controversial circumstances and flown to The Hague to await his trial.

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