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Taylor begins war crimes defence

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Taylor begins war crimes defence


The defence team of former Liberian president Charles Taylor has started to put its case against charges of war atrocities in Sierra Leone.

Taylor pleads not guilty to 11 counts including instigating murder, rape and mutilation and sexual slavery and conscripting child soldiers. His defence team is expected to argue that the ex-Liberian leader was trying to broker peace in neighbouring Sierra Leone, rather than foment violence during the decade-long civil war. An attempt to get the case thrown out for lack of evidence was rejected in May. Prosecution lawyers closed their case in The Hague in February. They claim Taylor supplied rebels in Sierra Leone with arms in exchange for resources including diamonds. One witness for the prosecution, Taylor’s former military commander, said he was given orders to kill men, women and babies and hack off rivals limbs. He also described instances of cannibalism. A verdict is expected next year.

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