The former Liberian president Charles Taylor has made a surprise appearance at the special UN court in the Hague. He is facing charges of instigating murder and mutilation in the civil war in Sierra Leone. Taylor had refused to turn up to his two earlier hearings. He argued that he did not have enough funds to mount a proper defence, and therefore his trial would not be fair.
Taylor pleaded not guilty to a charge of sexual slavery. The 59-year old was arrested by the UN and flown to the Hague to face trial. It was feared a hearing in Sierra Leone could bring about instability there. He has already denied 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity related to the civil war in Sierra Leone between 1991 and 2002. An estimated 50,000 people died in the conflict. He is also accused of re-cruiting child-soldiers to fight in the war.