[JURIST] Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) [official website; JURIST news archive] prosecutor Stephen Rapp [official profile] said Monday that a verdict in the war crimes case against former Liberian President Charles Taylor [case materials; JURIST news archive] is expected in early 2010. Rapp said that the last of the prosecution's 91 witnesses was called last Friday and that the trial will likely remain in recess until April, when the defense will begin calling witnesses. Taylor has pleaded not guilty to all 11 counts [indictment, PDF] of crimes against humanity, violations of the Geneva Conventions [materials], and other violations of international humanitarian law.
Taylor is generally deemed responsible for leading and funding civil wars in Liberia and neighboring 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. It was later determined that Taylor held $5 billion in two US banks [JURIST report] during his presidency. His trial began in Sierra Leone, but has been moved to The Hague [JURIST report] for security reasons. Last month, Taylor's son was sentenced to 97 years [JURIST report] in a US prison for committing torture in Liberia.