By Clarence Roy-Macaulay
Freetown, Sierra Leone - The United Nations-backed Sierra Leone tribunal holding former Liberian president Charles Taylor authorised on Monday the former warlord's transfer to an overseas court for trial on war crimes charges.
But the Sierra Leone court's president said in a written order that extra money may have to be spent so Taylor's trial in the Hague, Netherlands, will be accessible to Sierra Leoneans, who suffered at the hands of the brutal rebel movement Taylor is accused of backing and directing.
The court made no mention when Taylor, who has pleaded innocent to the charges, might be sent to the Netherlands.
The directive formally endorses a UN Security Council authorisation on Friday for Taylor's transfer overseas. The Sierra Leone tribunal requested that the trial be moved out of the region for fear a man who once was among the region's most feared warlords could still spark unrest in West Africa.
The Sierra Leone Special Court will conduct the trial, with the Netherlands supplying only the courtroom and jailing Taylor during the proceedings.
Taylor faces 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity stemming from his alleged backing of Sierra Leonean rebels, who terrorised victims by chopping off body parts during the 1991-2002 civil war.
No trial date had been set.
Efforts to begin Taylor's trial had stalled because no country has agreed to imprison him if convicted. But on Thursday, Britain said it was willing to jail him, breaking the impasse.
The Netherlands had agreed to host the trial but only if a third country agreed to jail Taylor if he is convicted. It also insisted that the arrangement should be endorsed by a UN Security Council resolution and that Taylor leave immediately after the trial, regardless of the outcome.
While the charges refer only to Sierra Leone, Taylor is accused of fomenting violence in his homeland and elsewhere in West Africa.
The road to trial for Taylor began in August 2003 when he went into exile in Nigeria in August 2003 as part of a deal that helped end Liberia's 14-year civil war.
After the Nigerian government agreed in March to hand him over to the UN Special Court, he tried to slip away but was captured and flown to Sierra Leone.
He has been in the Special Court's detention facilities in the Sierra Leonean capital since March 29 and pleaded not guilty at an April 3 arraignment. - Sapa-AP