Taylor's trial provides a model at The Hague

21 January 2008 by Thierry Cruvellier

Prepared, conscientious prosecutors, tenacious lawyers concentrated on the evidence, a chamber presided over with firmness and competence, pertinent witnesses: the trail of former Liberian president Charles Taylor, opened January 7 by a Special Court for Sierra Leone moved to the premises of the ICC at The Hague, has begun with dignity.

"All of this is about diamonds. This is what our case it about. This is why we brought Mr. Smillie," was the immediate chorus of the prosecutor. Canadian diamond traffic expert Ian Smillie taught English in one of the two major areas of diamond exploitation in eastern Sierra Leone from 1967-1968. At the time already, he remembered, "It was almost like a wild west. There were thousands of people who came to dig diamonds. It was all about diamonds." Thirty years later, in Ottawa, while the civil war had been ravaging Sierra Leone for eight years, one of his friends declared, "This is really all about diamonds, and as long as it is not dealt with, the war will continue." So Smillie devoted himself to this subject. In August 2000, he was part of a fiveperson panel tasked by the UN with investigating the diamond traffic between Sierra Leone and Liberia. These experts' report is the primary exhibit of the complicated puzzle the prosecution is trying to put together to get Taylor sentenced.

Want to read more?

If you subscribe to a free membership, you can read this article and explore our full archive, dating back to 1997.

Subscribe now

Related articles

21 December 2011 by Thijs Bouwknegt

Being the ICC's Chief Prosecutor is a delicate and politically sensitivejob.ForLuisMorenoOcampo it has been "the best job in the world." Fatou Bensouda will be taking over his office in June. She inhe

07 December 2011 by Thijs Bouwknegt

December 7, 2011 Ivory Coast is the latest playgroundoftheInternationalCriminal Court. This week the courtroom in The Hague became its theatre of justice. Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo proudly p

07 December 2011 by Richard Walker

Four Congolese witnesses testifying at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, find themselves caught in a legal wrangle, which could at once set a legal precedent and make them the last

07 December 2011 by Lindy Janssen

Brazil is booming. The economy is expanding and the country is getting ready to host the Football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. But the Latin American giant has not even begun dealing wi

07 December 2011 by Radosa Milutinovic

The primary purpose of the retrial of Ramush Haradinaj, as proclaimed by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in its appeal judgement in July, should have been to hear testimonies of two "key" witnesses who proved unwilling to testify in the original trial in 2007. Almost four months into the retrial which started in mid-August, its stated aim has not yet been achieved.