The Special Court in Sierra Leone welcomes the news that Liberia has formally requested that Nigeria turn over former Liberian president Charles Taylor. Taylor has been indicted on war crimes in Sierra Leone, stemming from the country’s civil war.
Desmond de Silva is the chief prosecutor for the UN-backed court. From Freetown, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the effort to bring Taylor to trial:
“I’m very pleased about this request that has been made by President Johnson Sirleaf. It is a bold move by her and it does show very early on in her presidency that she wishes to uphold the rule of law. I look to the president of Nigeria, of course, to heed this call that has been made by President Johnson Sirleaf because (Nigerian president Olusegun) Obasanjo has repeatedly said over the past few years that he would heed the call from the new democratically elected government of Liberia. That call has now come. So I hope that both leaders can agree (on) a course of action that would bring Charles Taylor to trial.”
De Silva says the legal term used in this case is transfer, not extradition, because Taylor would be turned over to the court, not to another country. T
he prosecutor says the Special Court is prepared to try Taylor, but he says Taylor’s lawyers would make a number of motions and require time to examine evidence. So it would probably be at least six months from the time the former Liberian leader was turned over before a trial would begin.