Special Court for Sierra Leone: Chronology

2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | Current

7 December 2006:  In the AFRC case, final arguments are heard.

7 December 2006: The UN Secretary-General appoints Stephen Rapp as the new SCSL Prosecutor, succeeding Desmond de Silva, who left the Court in June 2006. Rapp has been Chief of Prosecutions at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda since May 2005 and served as senior trial attorney in the “Media” case. Prior to working at the ICTR, Rapp was United States Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa.

28 November 2006:  In the CDF case, final arguments are heard.  

27 October 2006:  In the AFRC case, defense testimony ends.  Closing arguments are scheduled for 7 December 2006.

18 October 2006:  In the CDF case, defense testimony ends.  Closing arguments are scheduled for 28 November 2006.

22 September 2006: In the Taylor case, the Court announces that trial, to be conducted in the facilitites of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, is provisionally scheduled to begin on 2 April 2007.

2 August 2006: In the RUF case, the Prosecution concludes its case.

20 June 2006: In the Taylor case, Charles Taylor is transferred to the detention centre of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague where ICC courtroom and detention services and facilities will be used for his trial in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding concluded by the ICC and the Special Court on 13 April 2006. All costs are to be paid in advance by the Special Court.

19 June 2006: Justice Bankole Thompson (Sierra Leone) is elected to a one-year term as Presiding Judge of Trial Chamber I. He succeeds Justice Pierre Boutet (Canada).

16 June 2006: In the Taylor case, the U.N. Security Council, acting under Chapter VII, requests cooperation in the transfer of Charles Taylor to The Hague for trial by the SCSL at the premises of the International Criminal Court after finding that his trial cannot at present be conducted within Sierra Leone due “security implications” and that his continued presence there “is an impediment to stability and a threat to the peace of Liberia and of Sierra Leone.”

15 June 2006: The British government says that Charles Taylor can be imprisoned in the UK if he is convicted by the SCSL, removing the major hurdle to holding his trial in The Hague.

12 June 2006: In the Taylor case, Principal Defender Pro-Vincent Nmehielle announces that a team of lawyers have been appointed by the court to defend Charles Taylor, who has said that he does not have enough funds pay for his own defense.

5 June 2006: In the AFRC case, the Defence begins its case.

29 May 2006: In the Taylor case, the Appeals Chamber rejects a Defense motion requesting that no change of venue be made without affording the Defense a right to be heard, stating that “at this stage of the proceedings, matters relating to the venue of the Taylor trial are exclusively within the administrative and diplomatic mandate of the [Special Court’s] President.”

24 May 2006: The Special Court announces that Christopher Staker will take over as chief prosecutor when Desmond de Silva steps down at the end of June. Staker joined the SCSL as deputy prosecutor in July 2005.

15 May 2006: Justice George Gelaga King (Sierra Leone) is elected Presiding Judge of the Appeals Chamber and President of the Special Court for a one-year period. He succeeds Justice Raja Fernando (Sri Lanka).

28 April 2006: Chief Prosecutor Desmond de Silva, QC, notifies the UN Secretary-General that he will not seek to renew his contract when it expires on June 30, 2006. Nevertheless, Mr. de Silva says that when Charles Taylor comes to trial he will be willing to be considered for reappointment.

3 April 2006: Charles Taylor makes his initial appearance before the Special Court, at which time he denies the authority of the Court to try him but nevertheless pleads not guilty to all 11 counts of the indictment: five counts of crimes against humanity (murder, rape, sexual slavery and any other form of sexual violence, other inhumane acts, and enslavement); and six counts of violations of article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II (acts of terrorism; murder; outrages upon personal dignity; cruel treatment; conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups, or using them to participate actively in hostilities; and pillage).

29 March 2006: Citing security concerns, the Special Court formally requests that the Netherlands host the trial of Charles Taylor.

29 March 2006: Nigerian police arrest Charles Taylor as he attempts to cross into Cameroon. Taylor is “repatriated” to Liberia, then immediately flown to Sierra Leone and the custody of the Special Court.

26 March 2006: The Special Court Prosecutor officially requests President Obasanjo of Nigeria “to take all necessary steps to ensure that Charles Taylor is unable to abscond” and “to have his authorities execute the warrant for the arrest of Charles Taylor issued by the Special Court and transmitted to Nigeria in November 2003.”

25 March 2006: The Nigerian government issues a statement saying that "President Olusegun Obasanjo has . . . informed President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf that the government of Liberia is free to take former President Charles Taylor into custody."

17 March 2006: Liberian President Liberia Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf tells the U.N. Security Council that she has formally asked Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo to extradite former president Charles Taylor so he can stand trial at the Special Court. President Obasanjo is now consulting with African leaders who were signatories to the agreement resulting in Taylor’s exile in Nigeria.

16 March 2006: The Trial Chamber grants the Prosecutor leave to amend the indictment against Charles Taylor to charge him with 11 counts: crimes against humanity (murder, rape, sexual slavery and any other form of sexual violence, other inhumane acts [physical violence], enslavement); violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II (terrorism, murder, outrages upon physical dignity [sexual violence], cruel treatment, pillage); and other serious violations of international humanitarian law (conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups, or using them to participate in hostilities).

24 February 2006: Lovemore Munlo is appointed Registrar of the Special Court. Munlo has been the interim registrar since October 2005.

25 January 2006: In the CDF case, the defense begins its case. Accused Samuel Hinga Norman, the highest ranking figure being tried by the Special Court, makes his first appearance before the judges in over a year, testifying that Sierra Leonean President Kabbah led the CDF and therefore should also be indicted in this case.

18 January 2006: Justice Richard Lussick of Samoa is elected Presiding Judge of Trial Chamber II, which is currently hearing the AFRC case.