Taylor wants more lawyers

Taylor wants more lawyers

THE HAGUE – The defence of former Liberian president Charles Taylor, due to go on trial for war crimes here next month, said on Monday that they needed more senior counsels for the complex case.

In a pre-trial hearing of the case before the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), Taylor’s lawyer Karim Khan said his client was concerned he was being “short-changed” with only two attorneys who can attend his trial against a prosecution legal team of at least 10 people. The trial, which was moved to The Hague to the premises of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for security reasons is set to start on June 4 and the defence is trying to get a more senior lawyer on board, Khan said.Before the hearing adjourned on Monday the judge called on the registry of the court to help with the defence’s problem.”There is a bottleneck somewhere,” presiding judge Julia Sebutinde said.”I do not want to hear afterwards that as a result of a decision of somebody somewhere mister Taylor is not ready to stand trial,” she added.Taylor, who is detained in The Hague, has asked to meet the court’s defence liaison to discuss the arrangements but the trip was cancelled.The defence has asked for more time before the trial starts because of the problems but the court has denied it.Khan is now asking for leave to appeal that ruling but the court has not yet made a decision.Taylor is seen as the single most powerful figure behind a series of civil wars in Liberia and neighbouring Sierra Leone between 1989 and 2003 which left around 400 000 people dead.The former warlord-turned-president has been indicted by the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone on charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes and violations of international human rights.He maintains his innocence.Taylor was in court on Monday listening attentively to the proceedings and making notes.Dressed in a dark grey suit Taylor also wore sunglasses in court because he suffered from an eye infection, his lawyers said.On Monday the defence also complained they had difficulty getting witnesses to testify in the case because of a UN Security Council resolution that imposes travel bans on people deemed close associates of Taylor.According to Khan many witnesses are reluctant to testify because they are afraid of being slapped with a travel ban if they appear on his behalf during the trial.Nampa-AFPThe trial, which was moved to The Hague to the premises of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for security reasons is set to start on June 4 and the defence is trying to get a more senior lawyer on board, Khan said.Before the hearing adjourned on Monday the judge called on the registry of the court to help with the defence’s problem.”There is a bottleneck somewhere,” presiding judge Julia Sebutinde said.”I do not want to hear afterwards that as a result of a decision of somebody somewhere mister Taylor is not ready to stand trial,” she added.Taylor, who is detained in The Hague, has asked to meet the court’s defence liaison to discuss the arrangements but the trip was cancelled.The defence has asked for more time before the trial starts because of the problems but the court has denied it.Khan is now asking for leave to appeal that ruling but the court has not yet made a decision.Taylor is seen as the single most powerful figure behind a series of civil wars in Liberia and neighbouring Sierra Leone between 1989 and 2003 which left around 400 000 people dead.The former warlord-turned-president has been indicted by the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone on charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes and violations of international human rights.He maintains his innocence.Taylor was in court on Monday listening attentively to the proceedings and making notes.Dressed in a dark grey suit Taylor also wore sunglasses in court because he suffered from an eye infection, his lawyers said.On Monday the defence also complained they had difficulty getting witnesses to testify in the case because of a UN Security Council resolution that imposes travel bans on people deemed close associates of Taylor.According to Khan many witnesses are reluctant to testify because they are afraid of being slapped with a travel ban if they appear on his behalf during the trial.Nampa-AFP

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