JUDGES INSIST CHARLES TAYLOR MUST FACE TRIAL


Judges at the Special Court for Sierra Leone on Monday ruled against a defence request to acquit former Liberian President Charles Taylor on war crimes charges.

Taylor has pleaded not guilty to 11 counts involving murder, rape, conscripting child soldiers and sexual slavery during the intertwined wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone, in which more than 250,000 people were killed.

Defence lawyers said in April Taylor should be acquitted because there was no evidence he planned or instigated atrocities in Sierra Leone, but prosecutors say he directed the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels in a campaign of terror against civilians.

“The prosecution has produced evidence capable of supporting a conviction of the accused … based on his participation in a joint criminal enterprise,” the presiding judge said.

But the judge stressed that this ruling does not mean the trial chamber will convict Taylor.

A request for acquittal at this stage of the trial is considered common in international tribunals and judges must now set a date for the start of the defence’s case.

Defence counsel Courtenay Griffiths has indicated that Taylor will give testimony to the court. He is expected to be the first defence witness.

SOURCED FROM REUTERS

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