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Sierra Leone war crimes court prosecutor resigns with Taylor trial pending

[JURIST] The British lawyer serving as chief prosecutor for the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone [official website], the West African war crimes court that will try recently-captured ex-Liberian president Charles Taylor [JURIST news archive] for war crimes and crimes against humanity, announced [press release, PDF] Friday he would step down June 30 when his contract expires after only a year in the top position, although he left open the possibility of coming back to lead the case against Taylor if asked to do so by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Desmond de Silva QC succeeded former American chief prosecutor David Crane [faculty profile], who resigned in 2005 after serving with the Freetown-based tribunal from its establishment in 2002.

De Silva said he wanted to go back to his family in England and his legal practice in London. He originally joined the court as Deputy Prosecutor in October 2002. It's as yet unclear how his departure will affect the pending Taylor trial, already complicated by the possibility of having its locus shifted [JURIST report] to the facilities of the new International Criminal Court [official website] in The Hague and by uncertainties as to where Taylor might be sent for incarceration if convicted, given that a number of European states, including Denmark [JURIST report], Austria and Sweden [JURIST report], have already said they will not take him. AP has more.

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