Charles Taylor was nabbed trying to slip into Cameroon from Nigeria, in a Range Rover with an unidentified woman, his son, and lots of greenbacks. (Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Liberia's ex-leader handed over for war crimes trial) Brought to Sierra Leone, he now supplants the late Slobodan Milosevic as the big cheese in the International Criminal Court. Pressure from the US is said to have been the major factor in securing Nigeria's decision to give him up, which as I complained yesterday is laden with irony given the lack of US support for the institution.
Now the whole thing enters another phase. The ICC is troubled by a lack of jurisprudence. It is a young court, the laws are underdeveloped, and the international legal community was disappointed by the death of Milosevic not only because a decision was never arrived at, but because the completion of the case would mark a milestone in the development of international criminal law. The case of Tadic, a relatively low-level war criminal from the former Yugoslavia resulted in the late 1990's in reams and reams of documents, not because the case was complex, but because the lack of an international criminal jurisprudence meant that all sorts of standards were being set in his prosecution. This trend continued in Milosevic, and will undoubtedly resume with Taylor. It is a dangerous phase for the fledgling court, and they need to be prudent, patient, and careful in their prosectution.