'Blood Diamonds' Trial Opens

War crimes court pleads for cash in case against former Liberian president
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 7, 2008 3:29 AM CST
Schoolgirls walk past a sign proclaiming Charles Taylor innocent outside the office of his supporters in Monrovia, Liberia Monday, June 4, 2007. Former Liberian President Charles Taylor boycotted and...   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – The war crimes trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor is set to begin in The Hague after months of costly delays—forcing the court to ask for financial handouts to complete the proceedings. Taylor, 59, trained Sierra Leone's notoriously violent Revolutionary United Front in exchange for "blood diamonds," so called because of their cost in human lives,  He is charged with crimes against humanity, murder and rape.

Taylor, the first African leader to be brought before an international court, is receiving $100,000 a month for legal costs. The Special Court for Sierra Leone has appealed for help from international donors to meet costs. “This is certainly the most expensive program of legal assistance to any accused in the history of international justice," said the prosecutor. The prosecution case is expected to take ten months.