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As Charles Taylor boycotts trial, Sierra Leone's war-battered residents hope for justice

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor faces indictments on 11 counts, including murder, rape, sexual slavery, and the use of child soldiers in a brutal civil war that ravaged Sierra Leone.

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Former Liberian President Charles Taylor awaits the start of the prosecution's closing arguments during his trial at the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in Leidschendam on Tuesday, Feb. 8.

Jerry Lampen/AP

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Former Liberian President Charles Taylor boycotted his war crimes trial in The Hague for a second day on Wednesday, further delaying the court’s ruling on whether he bears responsibility for the civil war that ravaged the West African country of Sierra Leone for more than a decade.

It is the latest bizarre twist in the drawn-out trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, established in 2003 “to try those who bear the greatest responsibility” for the war that brutalized the country in the 1990s. Proceedings have included Shakespearean monologues from Mr. Taylor along with testimonies from British supermodel Naomi Campbell and American actor-activist Mia Farrow.

But here in Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, the public remains confident that the law will eventually catch up with Taylor, who faces indictments on 11 counts, including murder, rape, sexual slavery, and the use of child soldiers.

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Charles Taylor is pretending to the world that he’s innocent,” says Theresa Turay, a Sierra Leonean who lived through the country’s gruesome 11-year civil war. “But he has to face the trial. He has to face the penalty.”

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