07.03.11 - SCSL/TAYLOR - CLOSING ARGUMENTS FOR TAYLOR'S DEFENSE SET UP FOR MARCH 9

The Hague, March 7, 2011 (FH) - The Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) has set March 9 and 10 as the dates for Charles Taylor' defense to present its closing arguments.
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Former Liberian president 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.

On February 8, Taylor and his lawyer Courtenay Griffiths boycotted trial hearings in protest at judges' refusal to let them submit the late filling of their final written arguments, a document of almost 600 pages.

The court  had then granted the Defence team to appeal the decision.

In a ruling issued on March 3, the Appeals Chamber judges stated that the lower court had committed an "error of fact". "Although the Accuse is an educated man who previously held a position as head of state, he was nonetheless entirely reliant on Counsel to file the brief on time and could not himself have done so", reads part of the decision.

"In the face of the silence of the Accused, and given the ambiguous and contradictory representations made on his behalf the conclusion that the Accused had waived his right to have his written final argument considered by the Court was an error of fact which, if uncorrected, could occasion a miscarriage of justice", the ruling adds.

Charles Taylor was arrested in Nigeria in 2006. His trial opened in July 2009.

SM/GF

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