Former Liberian President Charles Ghankay Taylor will this morning start the process of answering to allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and serious violations of international humanitarian law. The former Liberian Head of State will face Special Court Prosecutor Stephen Rapp across the floor of the facility in The Hague where Mr Rapp will make his opening statements detailing the alleged crimes which his team have investigated and for which he believes Mr Taylor should be held accountable for.
The trial starts today even though Taylor’s Lawyer Karim Khan has been advocating for more time to prepare his defence.
Mr Taylor is standing trial on 11 count charges for his alleged role in supporting the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) during the eleven year war in Sierra Leone.
The former leader of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) militia had been offered temporary asylum in Nigeria after an arrangement by African leaders.
He was arrested on March 29th 2007 after allegedly trying to escape from his temporary home in Calabar in Nigeria.
Mr Taylor who was caught near the Nigeria Cameroun border was promptly flown over to Liberia where he was formerly put under arrest, handcuffed and flown over to Sierra Leone where he was detained at the New England Special Court detention center.
Five days later he made his first appearance where the initial charges were read against him in Court.
Mr Taylor pleaded not guilty.
On the 20th June after “security considerations” Mr Taylor was flown over to The Hague to stand trial.
The eleven count charges include crimes against humanity, violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Convention and additional protocols, along with terrorizing the civilian population, unlawful killings, sexual violence, physical violence, recruiting child soldiers, abductions, forced labour and looting.