Hearing On Preliminary Objections Begins Today in Sierra Leone

( [email protected] ) Nov 04, 2003 10:10 AM EST

Former Liberian President, Mr. Charles Taylor, currently facing charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity has filed a notice of preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the Special Court in Sierra Leone to try him.

The court sitting in Freetown, Sierra Leone's capital, will today begin public hearing into the objections raised by Taylor.

The Session to be presided by a Queens Counsel, England's equivalent of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Geoffrey Robertson (QC), also has Justice Emmanuel Olayinka Ayoola who retired last Monday from the Supreme Court and is currently the Chief Justice of Gambia as a panel member.

The court will sit from October 31 to November 7, 2003.

In a statement signed by Mr. Femi Falana, secretary, African Bar Association (ABA), the association said Taylor is challenging the competence of his indictment on the grounds that he enjoyed immunity as a head of state of the sovereign state of Liberia when he was alleged to have committed the said war crimes in Sierra Leone.

Also, Taylor is challenging the legality of the execution of his arrest warrant outside the borders of Sierra Leone.

Some of the questions the Special Court would determine today include:

whether the court has been lawfully established; whether the court's voluntary funding by the United Nation's member states deprives it of the necessary guarantees of independence and impartiality; whether the indictment of Charles Taylor at the time he was Liberian President or subsequently was invalid because he was immune from prosecution; whether in any event the writ issued him by the court can run outside Sierra Leone; whether the indictees can benefit from an amnesty or undertaking not to prosecute, allegedly given them before or in Lome agreement; and whether there is a crime of recruiting child soldiers in customary international law.