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Prosecution urges court to convict Charles Taylor

Liberia's ex-president Taylor and his lawyer have shunned his war crimes trial, walking out in protest. The prosecution accuses Taylor of inciting a civil war, murder, rape, sexual slavery and using child soldiers.

Charles Taylor at court in February

An "insatiable greed for wealth and power," prosecuters say

In its closing arguments, the prosecution in The Hague on Tuesday summarized the allegations against former Liberian President Charles Taylor for his role in Sierra Leone's civil war from 1991 to 2001. The brutal conflict left 120,000 people dead.

Taylor is charged with instigating murder, rape, sexual slavery, mutilation and drafting child soldiers during the conflict.

"All these atrocities [were] to feed the greed and lust for power of Charles Taylor," prosecutor Brenda Hollis told the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Hollis described Taylor as man with an "insatiable greed for wealth and power" who had portrayed himself as a victim of an international conspiracy.

"The accused is rightly before you as the man most responsible for the crimes with which he is charged. The evidence proves beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Taylor is guilty of those crimes," she continued

Prosecutors have said Taylor armed rebels in Sierra Leone, which borders Liberia, in exchange for illegally mined diamonds. They claim he wanted to gain control of Sierra Leone and its valuable natural resources.

Taylor and defense lawyer walk out

A person counts diamonds in Sierra Leone in 2004

So-called blood diamonds are at the center of Taylor's alleged crimes

Earlier on Tuesday, Taylor and his lawyer walked out in protest during the case's closing stages in The Hague.

Attorney Courtenay Griffiths first walked out in protest of the judges' refusal to let the defense team file a final 600-page document summarizing Taylor's defense.

Griffiths had wanted to submit the summary before the conclusion of the closing arguments on Wednesday, but judges refused after he missed the final deadline on January 14.

Then, after a coffee break, Taylor himself did not return. A court official said he was very upset and needed rest, but the judges were displeased he had disobeyed an order to stay in the court.

"He has deliberately both blighted that order and absented himself voluntarily," said Judge Teresa Doherty, before ordering the trial to continue.

It was not clear what effect Tuesday's unexpected developments would have on the trial. A verdict is not expected for several months.

Taylor's trial, which began more than three years ago, marks the first time an African ruler has faced charges in front of an international tribunal. The body trying him was established by the government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations.

Author: Andreas Illmer, Shant Shahrigian (AP, AFP, Reuters)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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