Judgment in the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor will take place shortly in the Special Court for Sierra Leone.  You can see the judgment here.  Charles Taylor was charged with an 11-count indictment alleging responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed by rebel forces in Sierra Leone during a decade long civil war.  

He faces 5 counts of war crimes of terrorising civilians – murder, outrages on personal dignity, cruel treatment and looting and 5 counts of crimes against humanity – murder, rape, sexual slavery, mutilating and beating and enslavement and 1 count of other serious violations of humanitarian law in recruiting and using child soldiers.   He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.  The Taylor trial opened on 4 June 2007 in the Hague and was adjourned immediately after the Prosecution’s opening statement when he dismissed his defence team and requested new legal representation. Witness testimony commenced on 7 January 2008 and concluded on 12 November 2010. Closing arguments took place in February and March of 2011.  The Court heard live testimony from 94 Prosecution witnesses, and received written statements from four other witnesses.  The defence presented 21 witnesses with the defendant giving evidence in his defence.   The delivery of the judgment had taken nearly a year due to the complexity of the case.  At the Special Court for Sierra Leone as with other international tribunals, both the Prosecution and the Defence have a right to appeal. If Charles Taylor is acquitted of all charges, the appeals process will begin immediately. If he is found guilty on any of the 11 counts the trial chamber will schedule sentencing proceedings.

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Written by Charles O’Mahony

Charles O’Mahony is a lecturer in Public Law at the School of Law, NUI Galway. His research is primarily in the area of mental health law and policy. Charles previously worked as Amnesty International Ireland’s Legal Officer on its mental health campaign. You can contact him at charles.omahony[at]nuigalway.ie