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Dutch asked to host Taylor war crimes trial

The special tribunal for Sierra Leone has asked the Netherlands to host the war crimes trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday.
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor arrives in Sierra Leone
Former Liberian strongman Charles Taylor wears a bullet proof vest as he steps out of a U.N. helicopter and is taken to the Special Court in Freetown, Sierra Leone on Wednesday to face war crime charges.   Michael Kamber / Polaris
/ Source: The Associated Press

The special tribunal for Sierra Leone has asked the Netherlands to host Charles Taylor’s war crimes trial, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday, a day after the former Liberian president was arrested.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Dirk-Jan Vermeij said the Sierra Leone court had asked the Hague-based International Criminal Court to make its facilities available for the trial.

ICC spokesman Ernest Sagaga said he had no immediate information on the request to Dutch authorities.

“If the U.N. were to ask the ICC to host the event, the authorities of the ICC will have to consider it,” Sagaga said.

The Netherlands said it was willing to work with the court, but that it wanted the sanction of a U.N. Security Council resolution, among other conditions.

“The special court in Sierra Leone has asked the Netherlands to host Charles Taylor’s trial. The Netherlands is willing to agree under certain conditions,” Vermeij told The Associated Press.

He said it was up to the Sierra Leone tribunal to make its own arrangements with the International Criminal Court, which was created in July 2002 but which only launched its first prosecution earlier this month.

Vermeij said the Netherlands would insist that Taylor leave the country following a verdict.

Venue for tribunals
The Netherlands is the venue for several international tribunals, including the war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, which tried Slobodan Milosevic until his death March 11.

War criminals convicted at the Yugoslav tribunal are sent to prisons in other countries to serve their sentences. They remain at a U.N. detention center in the Netherlands while on trial.

Taylor is charged on 11 counts for backing Sierra Leone’s rebels during a brutal war from 1991-2002. He was captured Tuesday in northeastern Nigeria as he was trying to cross the border into neighboring Cameroon, and flown from Nigeria to Liberia and then on to Sierra Leone where he was jailed in the tribunal’s detention facility in Freetown.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said the court in the Hague would be a “more conducive environment” for Taylor’s trial.