Taylor still snubbing war crimes trial at The Hague

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The Independent Online

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor maintained his boycott of his war crimes trial for a second day yesterday, prompting judges to adjourn the case to consider whether to allow a defence appeal over key documents.

Taylor, the first African ruler to stand trial for war crimes, has denied 11 charges of instigating murder, rape, mutilation, sexual slavery and conscription of child soldiers during the 1990s civil war in Sierra Leone.

Taylor and his defence lawyer Courtenay Griffiths boycotted much of Tuesday's hearing after the Special Court for Sierra Leone refused to accept the defence's near 600-page final case summary because it was filed 20 days after a January deadline. Both Taylor and Griffiths boycotted the hearing again on Wednesday and Griffiths said he would continue the boycott until the documents were accepted.

"What we were trying to do is ensure we get some semblance of justice out of this and it's turned into this personalised attack on us," Griffiths said. "I find it despicable."

Prosecutors accuse Taylor of directing Revolutionary United Front rebels who raped, killed and hacked off the limbs of women, men and children in a campaign of terror in Sierra Leone. They also say Taylor tried to control Sierra Leone's diamond mines, using "blood diamonds" – stones taken from conflict zones – for profit or to buy weapons.