Today, judges at the Special Court for Sierra Leone postponed the appeals hearing in the case of former Liberian president Charles Taylor. The hearing was originally scheduled to take place tomorrow and Friday of this week. The Appeals Chamber has now set a date of January 22, 2013 for the hearing to commence.
On April 26, 2012 the trial chamber convicted Taylor of aiding and abetting the commission of serious crimes including rape, murder, and destruction of civilian property by Revolutionary United Front and Armed Forces Revolutionary Council forces in Sierra Leone from November 30, 1996 to January 18, 2002. The judges also found that Taylor helped to plan attacks on three towns, including the diamond rich town of Kono and the country’s capital Freetown, in late 1998 to early 1999. On May 30, 2012, the judges sentenced Taylor to a jail term of 50 years for his role in the Sierra Leonean conflict.
Both prosecution and defense teams have appealed the judgment on several grounds, which they will present in court during the January hearing. In those appeals, filed in July, prosecutors raised four issues, including the judge’s failure to find Taylor liable for ordering and instigating the commission of crimes and the 50 year jail sentence. Among the 45 grounds of appeal that the defense raised are the findings of the judges that Taylor was involved in planning attacks on Kono, Makeni, and Freetown in late 1998 to early 1999 and that there were irregularities in the trial proceedings based on the statement made by the Alternate Judge El-Hadj Malick Sow, who alleged that there had been no deliberations among the judges.