News / Africa

Charles Taylor Boycotts Trial for Second Day

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor awaits the start of the prosecution's closing arguments during his trial at the U.N.-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in Leidschendam, February 8, 2011.
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor awaits the start of the prosecution's closing arguments during his trial at the U.N.-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in Leidschendam, February 8, 2011.

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor has boycotted his Hague-based trial for the second day in a row, forcing judges to adjourn the proceedings until Friday.  Taylor is charged with 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for arming rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone who waged a brutal civil war.  

Mr. Taylor’s no-show comes on the day his lawyers were supposed to make their closing arguments in his three-year war crimes case.  On Tuesday, Taylor’s lawyer stormed out of court, saying it was not possible to properly defend his client after judges refused to accept his written closing statement because he missed the deadline.

Mr. Taylor did not return to court after a short recess.  This morning, he notified judges that he was waiving his right to be present.  

"I will note that Mr. Taylor has opted not to come because we have not been given, for example, the medical note we have seen in the past, and accordingly I will rule pursuant to the rules that the matter will proceed." Presiding Judge Teresa Doherty stated.

Mr. Taylor’s lawyers have asked for the right to appeal the judges’ decision not to accept their final written submission.  Prosecutors on Tuesday gave a lengthy closing argument, saying Mr. Taylor is ultimately responsible for using terror to control the people and diamond wealth of neighboring Sierra Leone for his own greed and lust for power.  About 120,000 people were killed and thousands of more mutilated during the country’s 10-year civil war.

Judges adjourned the trial until Friday, when the defense is scheduled to reply to the prosecution’s closing arguments.  Prosecutors were also expected to rebut any defense arguments then, but judges canceled that part of the hearing, noting that there are no arguments for them to refute.   

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