Prosecutors at the Special Court for Sierra Leone resumed their cross-examination of former Liberian president Charles Taylor earlier this week. Taylor has been testifying in his own defence since July, 2009.
Taylor has pleaded not guilty to all 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed during Sierra Leone’s civil war. Instead he claims he was working as a peacemaker on behalf of the international community.
Acting Prosecutor Joseph Kamara, however, says “our evidence shows just the opposite.”
The prosecution, Kamara says, “does not intend to take as long as the 13 weeks the defence took.” And it could be even quicker than that: the case could soon come to a standstill for lack of money.
The SCSL “often [has] funding constraints,” says court spokesperson Solomon Moriba, and, currently, funding is only sufficient until the end of February. “We rely on donations and voluntary contributions. If donors do not come forward the trial may come to a halt.”
Thus far, the Taylor trial has been paid for using emergency funds received last July, but an additional $15.1 million is needed for this year. “Since November, the Registrar has been holding various meetings across the world to explain the situation to [potential donors]. All are aware of the funding situation,” says Moriba.
Pic: Former Liberian President- Charles Taylor