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Sierra Leone war crimes court rejects Taylor challenge to venue change

[JURIST] Justice George Gelaga King, newly-elected president of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) [JURIST news archive], has dismissed [decision, PDF] a defense challenge [JURIST report] to a prosecutor’s motion to move the trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] from Freetown, Sierra Leone, to the International Criminal Court (ICC) [JURIST news archive] at The Hague in the Netherlands. Taylor, who is being tried on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity under an revised amended indictment [PDF] argued that the venue change would affect the availability of scheduled witnesses and insisted there was no evidence that a Freetown trial would be unfair. King dismissed the challenge because such motions for venue shift are part of the administrative functions of the president of the SCSL and are not matters for the appeals chamber of the court to resolve.

Authorities in the Netherlands have said they will grant the request to relocate the trial to the ICC, but only on the condition that another country accept custody of Taylor immediately after proceedings conclude on the presumption he is convicted. So far UN negotiators have been unsuccessful in finding a country willing to take custody of Taylor [JURIST report], with Denmark refusing to take custody of Taylor [JURIST report] after the trial in April. Both Austria and Sweden have also rejected custody requests [JURIST report]. AFP has more.

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