June 21, 2006

Taylor awaits start of trial in ICC prison

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Former Liberian president Charles
Taylor was in jail in The Hague on Wednesday awaiting the start
of his war crimes trial after a flight from Sierra Leone.

He was flown from the U.N.-backed Special Court for Sierra
Leone in Freetown on fears a trial there could spur unrest in
Sierra Leone or Liberia.

Procedures for the trial, which will use the facilities of
the International Criminal Court (ICC) -- which is not involved
-- were expected to be announced on Wednesday by the registrar
of the Special Court.

Taylor already appeared in court for his initial hearing in
April, when he pleaded innocent to 11 counts of war crimes and
crimes against humanity for backing rebels who raped and
mutilated civilians during a brutal 1991-2002 civil war in
Sierra Leone, Liberia's neighbor.

He was flown in on Tuesday after his transfer was
authorized by the U.N. Security Council on June 16.

The Freetown tribunal had asked the Netherlands to host the
case but needed a third country to volunteer as Taylor's

Britain drafted the U.N. resolution after promising last
Thursday to jail Taylor, one of Africa's most feared warlords,
if he is found guilty.

Taylor's rise to power in 1989 led to a 14-year, on-and-off
civil war in Liberia that spilled across regional borders.

He fled into exile in Nigeria in 2003 but was returned to
Liberia and quickly transferred to the special U.N. court in
Sierra Leone on March 29.