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Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

30 September 2005

The Special Court for Sierra Leone received a boost today from several Member States who pledged funds to enable it to continue prosecuting those accused of committing serious crimes in that country since the signing of the 1996 Abidjan Peace Agreement, Chief Prosecutor Desmond da Silva said at a Headquarters press conference this afternoon.

Responding to questions about the Court’s status and its ability to prosecute former Liberian President Charles Taylor, Mr. da Silva said that Mr. Taylor remained in Nigeria, where he had been granted temporary asylum, and was aware that the Court was trying to convince Nigeria to turn him over for the “terrible crimes committed against the people of Sierra Leone”.

Robin Vincent, Registrar of the Special Court, who accompanied Mr. da Silva, acknowledged that while the Court had received high praise from many Member States and non-governmental organizations for its speed and efficiency thus far, its performance would undoubtedly be judged by its ability to prosecute Mr. Taylor.

Mr. da Silva explained that they could pursue Mr. Taylor only through diplomatic means because the Court had not been set up under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter and thus lacked the power to compel Nigeria to surrender him. In addition, the matter was politically sensitive; the United States and European countries were careful not to offend the Nigerian Government by telling it what to do. Moreover, those countries depended heavily on Nigeria’s contribution to peacekeeping operations in various hot spots.

Asked about the official Nigerian position, the Chief Prosecutor said they were awaiting the results of the upcoming Liberian elections to see if that country’s new Government would request that he be turned over. Nigeria would be well disposed to handing him over if that were the case.

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For information media • not an official record

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