Taylor assembles defense team for Sierra Leone war crimes trial

[JURIST] Former Liberian President Charles Taylor [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] met with several potential defense lawyers after he pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] Monday to 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity [amended indictment, PDF] at the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone [official website]. Taylor and Special Court Principal Defender Vincent Nmehielle [official website], who is currently defending him, say he has no money to hire a defense team, but that he would like to choose his own lawyers if he can raise the funds. Taylor's aides say he wants to be represented by Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz [academic profile], who was part of O.J. Simpson's winning defense team and famously represented Claus von Bülow in another high-profile murder case.

Taylor was taken into custody [JURIST report] last month and brought before the tribunal for his role in the 1991-2002 Sierra Leone war in which he allegedly supported rampaging rebel factions and recruited child soldiers. The prosecution has 30 days to present the defense team with its evidence against Taylor. The defense will then begin to prepare its case. Reuters has more.

 

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