Former Liberian leader Charles Taylor is scheduled to go on trial June 4th, following his indictment in 2003 on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The charges stem from Sierra Leone’s long civil war. Taylor will be tried at The Hague under the auspices of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
Professor David Crane is the former chief prosecutor for the Special Court and will be present during the opening day of the trial. From the town of Siracusa, Sicily, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about why he’ll be at The Hague.
“I’ve been given the honor to come and to observe the trial as the chief prosecutor, who in fact signed the indictment against Charles Taylor. They wanted me to be present and gave me the honor to be present during the opening statement,” he says.
Asked what type of evidence would be presented against Taylor, Crane says, “I can’t get into very specifics. That’s no longer my case. It’s up to the chief prosecutor, Stephen Rapp. But certainly when I signed the indictment of Charles Taylor on the 3rd of March 2003, in a very moving signing ceremony, at Seaview in Freetown…I made sure…that we could prove these cases beyond a reasonable doubt.
“Even though the law is fair, my intent as the chief prosecutor was to ensure that these individuals, to include Charles Taylor, never saw the light of a free day again.”
Crane expects the trial at The Hague to last about one year, and he expects it to send a clear message to Africa.
“No one is above the law. The law is fair and…the rule of law is more powerful than the rule of the gun. This will certainly send a signal and has already sent a signal to the people of Africa that their lives matter. And that no leader, regardless of who he is, has the right to take the lives of his own citizens.”