RAPAPORT… United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appointed Herman von Hebel, a Dutch national, as the new registrar of the Special Court for Sierra Leone upon the departure of Lovemore Munlo. Von Hebel steps into the role after having served as deputy registrar for one year. Von Hebel named Binta Mansaray of Sierra Leone to the deputy post.
The Special Court is responsible for trying those responsible for Sierra Leone’s civil war. This week the court handed down its first sentence in Freetown for three members of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council. The men are to serve between 45 and 50 years in prison for war crimes, and lawyers for the defendants plan to appeal the decision.
A satellite courtroom for the Special Court has been set up at The Hague for the trial of former Liberia President Charles Taylor and proceedings are expected to begin August 20. Taylor’s attorney however suggested on July 19th that he needs more time to prepare and may seek to delay the starting date. Taylor has pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of war crimes in Sierra Leone. Taylor also claimed he is destitute and was awarded $100,000 per month by the court to pay for legal fees, and investigator and other expenses.
On July 20 from Washington D.C., President George W. Bush re-issued an asset freeze on Taylor, members of his family, and members of the Taylor regime. The freeze was begun in July 2004. President Bush wrote through executive order that Liberia remains fragile and thus Taylor’s followers hold the potential to undermine the nation’s recovery.
President Bush noted that Liberia’s new leader, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and her government were not targets of the executive order.