The prosecution of  Charles Taylor, former president of Liberia, in the Special Court of Sierra Leone, sitting in special session at the Hague, came to a conclusion in February. Since that time the court has been weighing defense motions for an acquittal alleging that the prosecutor’s evidence failed to establish Mr. Taylor had committed war crimes or crimes against humanity. On Monday, the court ruled in strong language  it “wholly” rejected the motion for acquittal. The trial has been set to resume on June 29th and it is expected that the defense will call Mr. Taylor as its first witness. A recent editorial on allafrica.com questioned why the Blaise Campoare, current president of Burkina Faso was not  also on trial. The writer noted that it was publicly know that Campoare supported Taylor during the civil war in Liberia and helped finance his activities in Sierra Leone. That question will remain for another day. For now, Mr. Taylor must continue to wait for his fate to play out in court.

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It is hard to get much public notice when you are yesterday’s tragedy. Apparently, the Special Court of Sierra Leone has been quietly running out of money. The court predicted it would not have enough funds to carry it past April. The Special Court does not have a UN funded budget like the ICTR and the ICTY, rather contributions are voluntary, and with so much else going on in the world, the flow of contributions had diminished. With the Charles Taylor trial still in progress having sufficient funds to “keep the court doors open” is extremely important. Allafrica.com reported today that the court received $6.5 million in fresh contributions that will allow it to stay open through June, but the Taylor trial is expected to last through the end of 2009. The American/European style of justice is expensive. Those nations who volunteered to contribute should step up and do so. The court is in the middle of one of its most important trials. No one involved with the court needs to be distracted by trying to calculate whether the court can make it to the end of the trial. If a tribunal can be set up and financed to investigate the death of one man, Rafik Hariri of Lebanon, surely the funds can be found to finish the task of ending impunity for the deaths of over 20,000 civilians in Sierra Leone, the maiming of another 30,000 and the rape of over 200,000 women and girls.