Sweden could jail former Liberian president

The United Nations has asked Sweden among other countries to consider accepting Liberia's ex-president Charles Taylor as a prisoner if he is convicted of crimes against humanity, a Swedish official has confirmed.

“The UN has turned to several countries to check out the possibility if he (Taylor) is convicted that his sentence could be carried out in one of those countries,” foreign ministry official Hans Dalhgren told AFP.

“We are evaluating that and the question is being studied by the government,” he said, adding that Taylor’s trial would take “a long time, surely a year, perhaps longer.”

He declined to say what other nations had been approached by the UN about possibly housing Taylor in one of their prisons.

However an Austrian foreign ministry spokesman said his country had also been approached, but that it could not allow Taylor to serve out a sentence in Austria if convicted as Vienna does not have an agreement with Sierra Leone.

The former Liberian leader and ex-warlord has been indicted by the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone on charges stemming from atrocities committed during Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war.

The charges against Taylor include murder, sexual slavery, mutilation and the conscription of child soldiers in Sierra Leone, with the prosecution alleging he sponsored and aided rebel groups, notably in exchange for a share in the lucrative diamond trade.

Taylor appeared before the Special Court in Freetown on Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to the charges. He remains in UN custody in Sierra Leone but his trial may be shifted to The Hague.

No date or venue for the trial has yet been determined.

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