The UN-backed Sierra Leone Special Court that is conducting the war crimes trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor has elected a new presiding judge.

Judge Richard Brunt Lussick, who is a native of Samoa, replaces Justice Teresa Doherty whose one-year term ended on January 17, 2012, a statement by the court said Wednesday.

Because of earlier concerns about security, if Taylor’s trial was held in Freetown, his trial was shifted to The Hague, though it still remains under the auspices of the Sierra Leone Special Court.

The actual trial is virtually over and the court was expected to pass a verdict last year on the case, but due to some technicalities, the delivery of the judgement was postponed to this year.

Judge Lussick will now head the Trial Chamber II which will deliver the verdict.

Judge Richard Brunt Lussick

Before he was named as a judge of the Special Court in 2004, Judge Lussick held several positions within the Samoan judiciary, including acting Chief Justice and Judge of the Court of Appeal.

He will now head the Trial Chamber II of the court which has been handling the trial of the former Liberian leader.

A Jamaican-born lawyer Courtenay Griffiths has been leading Taylor’s defence since the trial began nearly three years ago at The Hague.

The former Liberian president has been standing trial at the facilities of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on eleven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for allegedly fuelling the decade-long civil war in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

Before he was named as a judge of the Special Court in 2004, Judge Lussick held several positions within the Samoan judiciary, including acting Chief Justice and Judge of the Court of Appeal.

He will now head the Trial Chamber II of the court which has been handling the trial of the former Liberian leader.

A Jamaican-born lawyer Courtenay Griffiths has been leading Taylor’s defence since the trial began nearly three years ago at The Hague.

The former Liberian president has been standing trial at the facilities of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on eleven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for allegedly fuelling the decade-long civil war in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

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