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Taylor war crimes trial could begin in January, officials say

[JURIST] The war crimes trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] could begin as early as January, Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) [official website] officials said Wednesday. Taylor, who was transferred [JURIST report] from Sierra Leone to The Hague on Tuesday, will await trial [ICC press release] by the UN-backed SCSL at International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] facilities in the Netherlands. At a status conference Wednesday, Taylor's defense lawyers objected to his sudden move to the Netherlands, saying it interrupted their preparation and assembly of the defense team. Prosecutors dismissed the claims, assured that Taylor would receive a fair trial, and said that they had disclosed over 32,000 pages of evidence and provided Taylor with the same access to his lawyers as he had in Sierra Leone.

The UN Security Council [official website] answered the SCSL's pleas to move the trial for security reasons [JURIST report] and approved Taylor's transfer [JURIST report] last Friday. The Netherlands agreed to host the trial only if the tribunal found a country willing to imprison Taylor if he is found guilty [JURIST report] and a country that will grant him asylum if he is acquitted. Last Thursday, UK Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett said Britain would take custody of Taylor if he is convicted [JURIST report]. AFP has more.

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