- The lawyers of the former Liberian war lord turned President, Charles Taylor, have expressed worry over putting their client under intense camera surveillance. Mr Taylor is held in Dutch detention awaiting his trial.
Mr Taylor, who faces 11 counts of crimes against humanity, war crimes and human rights violations in the decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone, will appear before the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) in The Hague on 4 June. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
For regional security reasons, Mr Taylor's case was earlier moved from Freetown, Sierra Leone, to International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
Describing the installation of a spy camera in their client cell as "unheard of and uncivilised in most system", Mr Taylor's attorneys threatened to suspend legal visits to him in protest.
"Our sanctity of legal visit has been violated," one of the ex-President's lawyers, Karim Khan, told a Freetown news conference.
Lawyer Khan, a Briton, said ICC officials refused to remove the camera from Mr Taylor's cell, despite an appeal by the President of SCSL. Lawyer Khan said this was a clear testimony that the Sierra Leonean court was not sovereign in relation to its own accused.
"It seemed as if the Special Court for Sierra Leone is going out with a begging bowl to foreign international legal institutions, not as an equal but separate judicial institution," he alleged.
Officials of SCSL in Freetown preferred to remain tight-lipped on Lawyer Khan's allegations.
Clearly, Mr Taylor's defence team said unless the Special Court normalises conditions in their client's cell, they would stay away from the trial.
Charles Taylor, 58, led the National Patriotic Front of Liberia on 24 December 1989 to wage rebellion against the government of Liberia. The war later spread its tentacles to Sierra Leone where irreparable destruction to life and property occurred. After he was forced to relinquish power in 2003, Mr Taylor had been succeeded by an interim government.
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