Fmr. Liberian Leader TaylorThe Special Court for Sierra Leone has announced a change in the composition of Charles Taylor’s defense team as Morris Anyah, formerly a co-defense counsel, has been appointed as the lead defense counsel to handle the former Liberian President’s appeal.

 It is understood that this change in his defense team has been announced with the consent of Mr. Taylor, in line with his right to be represented by counsel of his choosing.

On April 26, judges in The Hague convicted Mr. Taylor of aiding and abetting 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Sierra Leone from November 30, 1996 to January 18, 2002. The former Liberian President is entitled to appeal the decision of the Trial Chamber judges.

For the purposes of his appeal, Mr. Taylor will now be represented by Mr. Anyah, who has served as Co-defense Counsel throughout the trial phase of the case. Courtenay Griffiths, will continue to serve as Mr. Taylor’s lead defense counsel only through the sentencing phase of the proceedings, which will be concluded on May 30.

At the same time, prosecutors at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) in The Hague have recommended that convicted former Liberian President Charles Taylor be sentenced to a maximum term of 80 years in jail for crimes committed by rebel forces in Sierra Leone from 1996 to 2002.

This recommendation was made in a sentencing submission made to Trial Chamber judges over the week end.

Judges further found that Taylor was guilty of planning attacks in three specific crime bases, including the diamond rich town of Kono and the country’s capital Freetown between late 1998 and early 1999.

In their sentencing submission, prosecutors noted that “[j]justice requires that Mr. Taylor’s sentence should reflect the extraordinary suffering caused by Mr. Taylor knowing, willing and long enduring participation in the crimes committed in Sierra Leone and recognize the critical role he played in a criminal campaign of atrocities which lasted years.”

Prosecutors have therefore recommended that Mr. Taylor be made to serve jail term according to the gravity of the various counts on which he has been convicted. Below are specifics of the jail terms as recommended by the prosecution:

 1. Count 1, Acts of Terrorism: 80 years
 2. Count 2, Murder: 75 years
 3. Count 3, Violence to life, etc, including murder: 75 years
 4. Count 4, Rape: 75 years
 5. Count 5, Sexual Slavery: 75 years
 6. Count 6, Outrages Upon personal Dignity: 75 years
 7. Count 7, Cruel Treatment: 75 years
 8. Count 8, Other Inhumane acts: 75 years
 9. Count 9, Child soldiers: 75 years
 10. Count 10, Enslavement: 75 years
 11. Count 11, Pillage: 40 years

Mr. Taylor’s defense team will have another seven days to respond to the prosecution’s submission. The parties will make oral submissions on their sentencing briefs on May 16 and the judges will deliver their verdict on Mr. Taylor’s sentence on May 30, 2012.

Either or both the defense and prosecution will be entitled to appeal the Trial Chambers verdict before the Appeals Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.