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Taylor gets new defense team in war crimes trial

[JURIST] The Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) [official website; JURIST news archive] has obtained a new legal team for former Liberian President Charles Taylor [BBC profile; SCSL case materials], appointing on Tuesday Courtenay Griffiths, QC as lead counsel and Andrew Cayley and Terry Munyard to serve as co-counsels on Taylor's defense team. Taylor, who has boycotted [JURIST report] several trial sessions, has demanded that the SCSL obtain a British Queen's Counsel on his behalf after he fired his court-appointed lawyer before the prosecution presented its opening arguments.

Taylor faces charges [indictment, PDF] of murder, rape, and the recruitment and use of child soldiers during a bloody civil war in Sierra Leone [JURIST news archive]. He has previously complained that his single court-appointed defense lawyer was unfairly outnumbered [JURIST report] by the prosecution team. The criticism prompted the SCSL to order the addition of four people to Taylor's defense team and postpone the trial until August 20 [JURIST report] to give Taylor's defense team more time to prepare. The SCSL also increased the monthly funding available to Taylor [JURIST report] to approximately $100,000, despite a UN report that concluded Taylor may be in control of millions of dollars [JURIST report] held in bank accounts worldwide. AFP has more.

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