PAC’s Ian Smillie to be First Witness Against Taylor

150 150 Rapaport News

RAPAPORT… The long awaited trial of former Liberia President Charles Taylor resumes in The Hague Monday (January 7, 2008) with Ian Smillie of Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) taking the stand as the first witness.

According to media reports, Smillie has been called as an expert on blood diamonds, which is expected to be a central theme in the trial.

Taylor allegedly provided weapons to militias in exchange for diamonds mined in Sierra Leone during the 10-year conflict in the country. He is accused of 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against people in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Taylor has pleaded innocent to all charges.

Smillie is the first of 144 witnesses the prosecution is planning on calling throughout the trial and his testimony will be followed by that of a victim of the militias.

The trial started in June 2007, but was delayed after Taylor refused to present himself in court and after his defense attorney quit. It was rescheduled for August and then again in January to give his new defense team time to prepare.

It was decided in 2006 that the trial would be moved from Freetown, Sierra Leone to The Hague, due to concerns that such a high profile case would reignite violence in the region. Sierra Leoneans will be able to watch the proceedings by satellite at the court’s headquarters in Freetown.

The trial is expected to last up to two years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.