Charles Taylor defence allowed to appeal over documents

Taylor and his defence lawyer boycotted most of the hearings this week after the Special Court refused to accept the defence's final case summary

Charles Taylor defence allowed to appeal over documents

Former Liberian president Charles Taylor and his lawyer, who boycotted the West African ruler's war crimes trial for a third day on Friday, were granted the right to appeal over key documentation.

Taylor has denied 11 charges of instigating murder, rape, mutilation, sexual slavery and conscription of child soldiers during the civil war in Sierra Leone in the 1990s.

A final ruling is expected later this year in a case that is being followed closely in West Africa, Europe and the United States because of the political and security implications.

A U.S. diplomat has warned that if Taylor, the first African leader to stand trial for war crimes, is acquitted or gets a light sentence, his return to Liberia could "tip the balance in a fragile peace".

Taylor and his defence lawyer Courtenay Griffiths boycotted most of the hearings this week after the Special Court for Sierra Leone refused to accept the defence's almost 600-page final case summary because they filed it 20 days late.

But on Friday, the judges agreed to allow Griffiths to appeal that decision and postponed hearings for two weeks.

Griffiths welcomed the court's decision.

"I think that reason is finally beginning to prevail and that by granting or allowing us permission to appeal the decision to refuse our final brief, we are on track now hopefully to bring this trial to an appropriate ending," Griffiths told reporters outside the court.

"I am hopeful that we can file by Tuesday or Wednesday next week and then the members of the appeal chamber will deliberate on our application and hopefully thereafter we might get a result by the following week because I am sure everyone is anxious to bring these proceedings to a close, including us on the defence side."

Griffiths had requested an extension of the filing time limit before the January deadline. He said he had been waiting for the judges to rule on eight legal matters and therefore had not been ready to file his summary.

Prosecutors accuse Taylor of directing Revolutionary United Front rebels who raped, killed and hacked off the limbs of women, men and children in a campaign of terror in Sierra Leone.

They also say Taylor tried to control Sierra Leone's diamond mines, using "blood diamonds" -- a reference to stones taken from conflict zones -- for profit or to buy weapons.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 11 Şubat 2011, 15:45

Muhammed Öylek