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Taylor war crimes witnesses to testify anonymously: prosecutor

[JURIST] Most witnesses who have been called to testify in the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] will remain anonymous, and some may be forced to relocate to avoid retaliation by Taylor's supporters in Liberia, prosecutor Steven Rapp told AP on Wednesday. Several witnesses in particular are at risk because they were insiders during Taylor's 1997-2003 regime and may be considered traitors. AP has more.

Taylor's trial is scheduled to begin June 4 and could cost upwards of $33 million dollars, though the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) [official website] has raised only half of the needed funds [JURIST report].

In January, the Court announced the delay of the trial [JURIST report] until June in order to give Taylor's defense lawyers more time to prepare. The court's order [PDF text] cited the extensive amount of time that Taylor has currently been in pre-trial confinement in establishing the new start date. Taylor was originally indicted [amended indictment text, PDF; SCSL materials] in 2003 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. After being captured last year trying to flee Nigeria, where he had been in exile, he was taken to The Hague [JURIST report] to await trial.

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