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Taylor makes first war crimes court appearance at The Hague

[JURIST] Former Liberian President Charles Taylor [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] on Friday made his first court appearance in The Hague since leaving Sierra Leone [JURIST report] last month. Taylor's lawyer Karim Khan told the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) [official website], sitting at International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] facilities, that Taylor is unhappy with prison conditions at The Hague, calling conditions at the Freetown, Sierra Leone prison that formerly detained Taylor far superior to his current conditions. Prosecutor Brenda Hollis stated hopes that the trial will begin at the beginning of next year [JURIST report], but Khan countered that the trial will take at least one year to prepare given the difficulties of hosting the trial in the Netherlands.

In March the SCSL said it wanted to move Taylor's trial to The Hague [JURIST report] for security reasons, but the Netherlands said that it would only agree to host the trial on its territory 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. Britain offered to take custody [JURIST report] of Taylor in June, after several other countries refused [JURIST report]. Taylor has been indicted [PDF text] on charges of crimes against humanity and violations of international humanitarian law, including murder, rape and the recruitment and use of child soldiers during the war in Sierra Leone. Taylor will next appear in court on September 29. Reuters has more.

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