The Hague, March 10, 2011 (FH) - Charles Taylor's lawyers delivered on March 8 and 9 their closing arguments before the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL).

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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.

Defense team had chosen to be aggressive. "This was a court, ostensibly and publicly set up, we are told, to try those who bear the greatest responsibility," said lead counsel Courtenay Griffiths. "So why is Colonel Moammar Gadhafi not in the dock? (...) What about Blaise Compaoré?"

"We submit that it is to the shame of this prosecution that it has besmirched the lofty ideals of international criminal law by turning this case into a 21st century form of neocolonialism," he added.

According to the lawyer, the trial has been politically motivated in order for London and Washington to take control of Liberia's oil resources.

Griffiths also claimed that the prosecution case was mainly based on hearsay and circumstantial evidence. "The prosecution are making assumptions in the absence of proof that, in effect, put bluntly, where no proof is available, let's make it up," he added.

He finally stated that prosecution's evidence were "design fashioned" and "garbage".

Taylo's co-counsel Terry Munyard then discussed the credibility of witnesses and the problem of their "payment". "Some of the evidence demonstrates very clearly that some prosecution witnesses have been rewarded-have ‘profited'-from their connection with the prosecution.", he stated.

Charles Taylor attended the closing arguments, looking drawn and somber.

The trial continues on Friday with final discussions on both sides. The judgment is not expected to be handed down before four to six months.


© Hirondelle News Agency