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Liberia ex-president Taylor seeks acquittal in war crimes case

[JURIST] Defense lawyers for former Liberian president Charles Taylor [case materials; JURIST news archive] on Monday filed [press release] a Rule 98 motion for acquittal [materials] following the close of the prosecution's case at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) [official website; JURIST news archive]. The defense admits that atrocities were committed [AFP report] in Sierra Leone but maintains that the prosecution failed to provide evidence linking Taylor to any of them. The prosecution will have an opportunity to respond [Reuters report] to the defense's motion Thursday, and a ruling could come within the next two weeks.

Taylor is charged with 11 counts [indictment, PDF] of crimes against humanity, violations of the Geneva Conventions [materials], and other violations of international humanitarian law, to which he pleaded not guilty. In February, officials announced [JURIST report] that they expected the court to render a verdict by 2010, despite the SCSL's ongoing financial troubles. After complaints [JURIST report] of prejudice in 2007, the SCSL increased [JURIST report] Taylor's defense funding to $100,000 a month. Taylor claims to be indigent but in June 2007, a five-member UN investigatory panel found [JURIST report] that he retains control over millions of dollars hidden in African banks.

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