Taylor war crimes trial postponed

Judges at Special Court for Sierra Leone grant defence extra time to prepare case.

    Child soldiers fought in Sierra Leone's
    bitter conflict [AP]
    "In the chamber's view, the period of four months is indeed a reasonable time... to grapple with a complicated case," said Julia Sebutinde, a judge.
     
    Sebutinde took into account that the prosecution had not opposed the defence team's request for more time.

    "We are anxious to get on with this trial," Courtenay Griffiths, Taylor's chief defence counsel, said.

    "We appreciate the accused has spent a considerable amount of time in custody and we appreciate that there are other pressures on this court."
    Taylor was present at the hearing.
     
    Extra evidence
     
    Griffiths said there were about 40,000 pages of material submitted by prosecutors to be examined.

    He said 50,000 pages of material from Taylor's personal archives had also been found in Monrovia which could be crucial to the case.

    During the conflict, hundreds of civilians had limbs cut off by fighters wielding machetes. Many of the fighters were children.

    The charges against Taylor says he aimed to take control of Sierra Leone's mineral wealth, particularly its diamond mines, and destabilise the Freetown government to boost his own influence across West Africa.

    The indictment focuses on abuses committed between 1996 and 2002, and catalogues the violent practices of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), which the prosecution says was backed and supplied by Taylor.

    Taylor's trial is being held in The Hague because of concerns it could spark unrest if held in Sierra Leone.

    On Saturday, Sierra Leone held its first elections since the departure of UN peacekeepers two years ago.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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