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Prosecution, defense seek further delays in Taylor war crimes trial

[JURIST] Both the prosecution and the defense requested additional delays Thursday in the war crimes trial [case materials] of former Liberian President Charles Taylor [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. Lawyers say they need more time to prepare for the first witness, who is currently scheduled to testify on Tuesday. Taylor's trial at the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) [official website] has suffered several setbacks already, including a move from Sierra Leone to The Hague last year for security reasons. In addition, Taylor is boycotting the proceedings [JURIST report], and is currently without representation. Taylor fired his court-appointed lawyer at the beginning of the month. The presiding judge ordered temporary counsel be appointed to represent Taylor during the month of July, and charged the court's principal defender with finding Taylor a new legal team before August.

Taylor has been indicted [PDF text] for 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 [JURIST report]. If acquitted, he will be permitted to return to Liberia; if convicted, he will serve his jail time in Britain [JURIST report]. AP has more.

UPDATE 6/29/07 - The trial has been delayed until August 20, though the court will hold a brief hearing on July 3 to provide more details on the decision to delay proceedings. AP has more.

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