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Charles Taylor in Custody in Sierra Leone


Former Liberian warlord and president, Charles Taylor has been put in a cell at the war crimes court in Sierra Leone, ending a whirlwind day since his capture in Nigeria.

Taylor spent his first night in the cell that has been awaiting him at the U.N.-backed war crimes court in Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown.

He faces 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including using child soldiers during Sierra Leone's 10-year civil war which ended in 2002.

Harpinder Adhwal, the special assistant to the court's prosecutor, previously told VOA her team is ready to get to work.

"We're delighted, we're absolutely delighted at the prospect of finally being able to receive him and to continue with his case," she said.

The court is under the protection of several hundred United Nations peacekeepers, left behind from the large Sierra Leone peacekeeping mission.

Taylor arrived in Freetown Wednesday evening, after spending one hour in Monrovia, where he was flown from Nigeria. He was captured by Nigerian police near the Cameroon border.

Small groups gathered into the night in Monrovia to discuss the sudden events, with most happy Taylor had been immediately taken to Sierra Leone.

He has been accused of spreading instability throughout West Africa, including during his rise to power in Liberia, by trading weapons for resources. Nigeria had given him asylum in late 2003 to end Liberia's own civil war.

But after Liberia requested his handover, Taylor went missing earlier this week.

His brief disappearance had worried human rights activists who say Taylor's trial is needed to end the climate of impunity in West Africa.

There is a possibility Taylor will not be long in Sierra Leone. President Bush has suggested he might be moved to another country, most likely the Netherlands. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack has said discussions are under way on a possible change of venue, saying the goal is to find a location that could handle a trial of this magnitude. However, McCormack emphasized jurisdiction would remain with the Freetown tribunal, which would simply try the case at a different site.

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