UNITED NATIONS – U.N. Security Council members agree the war crimes trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor should be moved from Sierra Leone to the Netherlands and could adopt a resolution next week to allow the transfer, the council president said.
China's U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya said the Security Council was still debating several issues, including who should pay the costs. He scheduled closed-door consultations Monday on the draft resolution and said he expected it to be adopted "early next week."
"I think there is agreement that he is going to be moved to The Hague," Wang said Friday. "Now, it's only the technical side, how the resolution will look ... (so) there will be no misunderstandings, no concerns."
The U.N.-backed Special Court in Sierra Leone has requested that Taylor's trial be moved out of West Africa for security reasons. Taylor has pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of war crimes stemming from his alleged backing of Sierra Leone's rebels, who terrorized victims by chopping off their arms, legs, ears and lips.
Taylor spent 2 1/2 years in exile in Nigeria as part of a deal that helped end Liberia's 14-year civil war. Nigeria agreed to hand him over last month under international pressure. Taylor fled but was captured within a day trying to slip into Cameroon.
The draft resolution states that the costs of trying Taylor in the Netherlands "are expenses of the Special Court" in Sierra Leone, which is funded by voluntary contributions. It reiterates an appeal to U.N. member states "to contribute generously" to the court.
In a March 29 letter to the Security Council, the Netherlands emphasized that the Special Court must shoulder the costs of the trial and "that no additional costs shall be incurred by the Netherlands without its consent."
Wang said some members of the International Criminal Court want the issue of costs to be clarified further in the resolution to avoid future disputes.
A U.N. appeal for $25 million to fund the Special Court for Sierra Leone this year has so far received only $9 million in pledges and $6 million in funding, which is expected to run out soon.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan wrote to the foreign ministers of the 191 U.N. member states shortly before Taylor's capture, seeking $14.4 million for the court this year, U.N. deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe said. She said that did not include the cost of moving Taylor's trial to The Hague, which has not yet been calculated.
U.S. Mission spokesman Benjamin Chang said the United States would seriously consider the request "because we want the court to be able to bring Charles Taylor to justice."
The Dutch government also asked for assurances that once a verdict is reached, Taylor would immediately be transferred out of the Netherlands.
Sweden and Austria said Wednesday they had received requests to imprison Taylor if he is convicted, but no decision has been announced.