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Taylor continues boycott of war crimes trial

[JURIST] Former Liberian President Charles Taylor [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] continued his boycott [JURIST report] Monday of the judicial proceedings against him during the second day of his trial at the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) [official website]. Taylor is demanding that the court either allow him to represent himself or obtain a British Queen's Counsel. Taylor fired his court-appointed lawyer Karim Khan two weeks ago and currently remains unrepresented, although SCSL prosecutors and the registrar [official websites] have refused to recognize the firing. Both say that only the court's judges have the authority to remove appointed defense lawyers. Principal Defender Vincent Nmehielle [official profile] has recognized Khan's firing but has not yet appointed a replacement, which is preventing the prosecution from proceeding with their first witness. Presiding Judge Julia Sebutinde [official profile] questioned Nmehielle on the delay Monday and criticized the defense office and the registrar for not acting sooner.

A UN report recently concluded that Taylor may retain control over large sums of personal assets [JURIST report] located in Nigeria and Liberia, disputing Taylor's claims that he is an indigent defendant. Taylor, who claims his defense is unfairly outnumbered by the court's prosecution team, is charged [indictment text, PDF] with murder, rape, and the recruitment of child soldiers during the bloody civil war in Sierra Leone [JURIST news archive]. If acquitted, he will be permitted to return to Liberia; if convicted, he will serve his jail time in Britain. The trial, which is expected to last 18 months, was relocated to The Hague from Sierra Leone for security reasons last year. AP has more.

9:56 AM ET - The trial has now been adjourned until July 3 [BBC report].

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