Ex-Liberian leader “can’t come to Swedish jail”

Sweden has told the United Nations that its current legal framework does not enable it to imprison Liberia's ex-president Charles Taylor if he is convicted of crimes against humanity, the foreign ministry said on Thursday.

The UN had asked Sweden and several other countries whether they would consider the possibility of imprisoning Taylor if he is convicted.

“We can’t make any commitments at this point … We don’t have the appropriate legal framework,” Swedish foreign ministry spokesman John Zanchi told AFP.

However, Sweden’s parliament is due to consider new legislation this summer that would enable the Scandinavian country to take in Taylor, Zanchi said.

Under current Swedish law, the country can only assist an International Criminal Court (ICC), such as the UN court in The Hague.

The former Liberian leader and ex-warlord has been indicted by the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone, which does not have ICC status, 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.

If the trial is moved to The Hague, or if the Swedish law is changed, Sweden may at that point reconsider a new request from the UN, Zanchi said.