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Taylor lawyer fights change of venue for war crimes trial

[JURIST] Charles Taylor [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], the former president of Liberia indicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) [official website], will challenge a prosecutor's motion that seeks to move his trial from Freetown, Sierra Leone, to The Hague in the Netherlands, his British lawyer [JURIST report] announced Monday. Prosecutors told officials of the UN-backed court that a move from the West African nation was necessary to avoid causing unrest among neighboring countries, such as Liberia itself. The UN Security Council is currently considering a resolution to move the trial [JURIST report], but members have not yet agreed [DPA report] on whether to do so, on how to fund a shifted proceeding (estimated to cost some $20M) or on what legal basis a shift might be authorized. But Taylor's lawyers argue that the change of venue could effect the availability of scheduled witnesses and insist there was no evidence that a Freetown trial would be unfair.

Taylor stands accused [indictment, PDF; summary] of war crimes - including impressing children as young as eight into his rebel army - and of orchestrating terrorist acts committed during Sierra Leone's 1991-2002 civil war. SCSL administrators are currently looking [JURIST report] for a country willing to grant Taylor asylum if he is acquitted. If convicted, Taylor will most likely be imprisoned in Sweden. Reuters has more.

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