09.02.11 - SCSL/TAYLOR - CHARLES TAYLOR TRIAL POSTPONED TO FRIDAY, WARNING AGAINST DEFENCE LAWYER

The Hague, February 9, 2011 (FH) - Charles Taylor boycotted for the second day on Wednesday his trial before the Special court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), while his lawyers requested from the judges the right to appeal a decision rejecting Defence's final brief.
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The trial, which heard its first witness in January 2008, was set to come to an end Friday. Prosecutors presented their closing arguments Tuesday, and the defense was meant to do the same today. If closing arguments had wrapped up as planned this week, a ruling in the case could have been expected later this year.

However, Taylor's lead counsel Courtenay Griffiths left the courtroom when he was told on Tuesday that his 547 pages written conclusions could not be accepted on ground that it had been submitted three weeks after the dead-line.

Neither Taylor nor his defence team showed up Wednesday morning. Judges then decided to postpone the trial until Friday without further explanation.

During a Press conference held after the adjournment, Courtenay Griffiths said that his client would not attend his trial on Friday. "This is about ego, not justice", he said angrily.  "This is not about M. Taylor trying to manipulate this court, he has not that power". The lawyer added : "We are not challenging that authority at all".

Late on Wednesday, the judges finally filed a decision instructing M. Griffiths to attend the hearing on Friday and warning him that "unless he apologies for his behavior" at the beginning of the closing arguments, "the trial chamber may impose sanctions" for misconduct.

Former Liberian president Charles Taylor was indicted in 2003 with eleven charges including crimes against humanity and crimes of war committed in Sierra Leone between 1996 and 2002.

According to the Prosecution, Taylor backed up the rebellion of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in order to take control of Sierra Leone's diamond mines. The Liberian warlord allegedly provided the RUF with weapons, ammunition, and communication tools in exchange for gems.

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