Monday, June 04, 2007

Not A Great Start

The opening day of the trial of Liberia's former leader, Charles Taylor, has not gone well. He didn't bother turning up to the courtroom in The Hague, to face various charges of organising murder and rape, during the civil war in neighbouring Sierra Leone. Taylor's not happy at what he says is a lack of resources for his defence team.

There is one good thing to say about today, and that is that it happened at all. Taylor is the first former African leader to end up facing such a trial, which can only be a good thing. He deserves it too, for the misery he caused in his attempts to take control of the natural resources of another country - Sierra Leone's diamond mines.

But the chaotic beginning is a worrying sign. Taylor's now insisting on defending himself, one of many similarities with the last major trial along these lines, that of Slobodan Milosevic. Through several years of evidence and long delays, nobody managed to lay a glove on him when it came to proving he'd taken part in war crimes, and he ended up dying before a verdict could be passed. The people of Liberia and Sierra Leone deserve this trial to be much better than that.

No comments: