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Taylor awaits war crimes trial under close UN guard

[JURIST] Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) [official website] Chief Prosecutor Desmond de Silva told the Associated Press in an interview Friday that Liberian ex-president Charles Taylor [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] is being closely guarded by UN peacekeepers from Mongolia and Ireland as he awaits a war crimes trial. The prison where Taylor is being held has taken extraordinary measures to prevent his escape, given his experience in other facilities. On Thursday that SCSL asked the Netherlands [JURIST report] to host Taylor’s war crimes trial in The Hague, on the basis that keeping it in Sierra Leone could create instability and threaten peace in the country. The Dutch government hopes a UN Security Council resolution will give a solid legal basis for such a transfer, and Dutch officials said Friday that an appropriate resolution could pass within days. In the meantime, however, Taylor's first court appearance [AFP report] is scheduled to take place at the SCSL building in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on Monday.

Taylor, who was arrested [JURIST report] in Nigeria Wednesday while trying to flee to Cameroon, faces 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity under an amended indictment [PDF text; PDF case timeline] for his role in Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war and for masterminding several West African regional conflicts that claimed up to 300,000 lives. AP has more.

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