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Charles Taylor to Face War Crimes Charges in Sierra Leone


Witnesses say captured former Liberian leader Charles Taylor has been taken to Sierra Leone in a U.N. helicopter. He is being transferred to a U.N.-backed court in Sierra Leone where he faces charges of crimes against humanity.

Taken to Liberia on a Nigerian government jet, Charles Taylor was arrested by the U.N. Mission in Liberia.

Hundreds of U.N. peacekeepers who waited in the rain took part in the operation.

Immediately after Taylor set foot on Liberian soil, Liberian government and U.N. security officials surrounded him and led him to the waiting helicopter in handcuffs.

Journalists who had come to witness his transfer were not let near the plane. They reported that Liberian police swung batons at them to keep them from the airstrip.

The U.N. Mission in Liberia had the authority to take Taylor into custody as soon as he entered the country.

"There is actually a Security Council resolution, resolution 1638, which gives UNMIL the capacity to apprehend and detain Charles Taylor and to facilitate his transfer to the Special Court," said Harpinder Adhwal, special assistant to the prosecutor at the Special Court. "There is a Chapter Seven resolution that allows UNMIL to facilitate his transfer to the Special Court in Sierra Leone."

She also told VOA she believes prosecutors have a strong case against Taylor and are delighted that they are now able to try him.

Heavy security was also present at the helicopter landing pad in Sierra Leone.

Taylor was indicted in 2003 and faces 17 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including training and using child soldiers, in the 10-year civil war in Sierra Leone. He has also been accused of spreading instability throughout West Africa and trading resources for weapons during his time in power in Liberia. Taylor has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

Earlier, Nigerian police captured Taylor near the border with Cameroon after he left his villa in southeast Nigeria, where he had been in exile since 2003.