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Sierra Leone war crimes court resumes Taylor trial

[JURIST] The Special Court for Sierra Leone [official website] on Monday resumed the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor [SCSL case materials; JURIST news archive] with testimony from the prosecution's first witness, a Canadian expert on so-called "blood diamonds" who told the court that the diamond trade prompted Liberia's role in Sierra Leone's civil war. Proceedings had been delayed since August in order to give Taylor's new defense team [JURIST reports] more time to prepare. The trial, which first began in June 2007, is expected to last another 18 months.

Taylor faces eleven charges [indictment, PDF], including murder, rape, and the recruitment and use of child soldiers during the bloody civil war in Sierra Leone. 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 add four people to Taylor's defense team and increase funding available to Taylor [JURIST report] to approximately $100,000 per month, despite a UN report that concluded Taylor may control millions of dollars [JURIST report] held in bank accounts worldwide. The trial has been moved to The Hague [JURIST report] for security reasons. BBC News has more. AP has additional coverage.

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