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Annan welcomes transfer of former Liberian Pres.

Annan welcomes transfer of former Liberian President for trial in the Netherlands

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan welcomed today’s transfer of Liberia’s former President, Charles Taylor, to the Netherlands, where he will stand trial before the Special Court for Sierra Leone, saying the process will mark a “further victory in the struggle to end impunity” and will also promote reconciliation.

“The Secretary-General encourages all States to cooperate with the Special Court with respect to Charles Taylor’s trial, in particular by ensuring that evidence and witnesses are made available to the Special Court upon its request,” Mr. Annan said in a statement through his spokesman.

“The Secretary-General…is confident that Charles Taylor’s trial will mark a further victory in the struggle to end impunity and will contribute to reconciliation in Liberia and the restoration of peace and stability in Liberia and in Sierra Leone.”

Mr. Annan went on to thank all the countries that had made the transfer possible, in particular the Netherlands for its willingness to host the Special Court for the trial of Mr. Taylor – who has been indicted for crimes against humanity and other violations, and the International Criminal Court for agreeing to the use of its premises in The Hague.

He also thanked the Government of the United Kingdom for agreeing, subject to parliamentary approval, to allow Mr. Taylor – if convicted – to enter the United Kingdom to serve any sentence that the Special Court might impose, the statement said.

Mr. Taylor was transferred to The Hague under an order issued on Monday by the President of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, where he has been awaiting trial under a UN-backed tribunal on charges related to his role in that country's bloody civil war.

He was taken by UN helicopter from the Special Court compound earlier today and flown to Lungi International Airport in Freetown, where he was transferred under heavy UN security to a chartered commercial jet, a UN spokesperson told reporters in New York.

The Security Council paved the way for the transfer last Friday with a unanimously adopted resolution drafted by the United Kingdom which stated that the ex-Liberian leader’s continued presence in the West African sub-region “is an impediment to stability and a threat to the peace of Liberia and of Sierra Leone.”

Mr. Taylor faces an 11-count indictment for crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law, including sexual slavery and mutilations allegedly committed during Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war.

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