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Taylor sought as defense witness in Dutch arms-trafficking case

[JURIST] [JURIST Europe] Former president of Liberia Charles Taylor [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] is being requested to testify at the trial of a Dutch timber trader indicted for facilitating the import of weapons to Liberia in exchange for timber, a violation of a UN arms embargo. Dutch prosecutors assert that while heading timber companies in Liberia, Guus Van Kouwenhoven [Trial Watch backgrounder] established a close relationship with Taylor that led to dealings in 'blood timber'. Lawyers for the Dutch timber trader believe Taylor will be a crucial witness in his defense. Timber became the chief source of financing for the civil war in Liberia and Sierra Leone due to UN sanctions on 'blood diamonds'.

Taylor, indicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone [official website] for war crimes and crimes against humanity [indictment, PDF] and now facing trial after his capture [JURIST report] in March, is currently fighting requests [JURIST report] to have his own proceeding moved from Freetown, Sierra Leone to the facilities of the International Criminal Court at The Hague in the Netherlands. The UN Security Council [official website] is continuing its search for a host country [JURIST report] for Taylor once a verdict has been reached. BBC News has more.

Angela Onikepe is an Associate Editor for JURIST Europe, reporting European legal news from a European perspective. She is based in the UK.

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