14 July 2009 The former Liberian president Charles Taylor took the stand today in his own defence during his trial at the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), where he is facing charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Mr. Taylor has already pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, which include pillage, slavery for forced marriage purposes, collective punishment, and the recruitment and use of child soldiers.
He told the court that the prosecution case against him was based on disinformation, lies and rumours.
The charges relate to his alleged support for two rebel groups in neighbouring Sierra Leone, the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council and the Revolutionary United Front, during that country’s civil war from 1996 to 2002.
Mr. Taylor’s defence, which began yesterday, is slated to last several weeks. A verdict in the trial, which is being held in The Hague in the Netherlands, is not expected until next year.
The SCSL was set up jointly by the Government of Sierra Leone and the UN in 2002. It is mandated to try those who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and national law committed in Sierra Leone since 30
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