The Hague - Judges presiding over the war crimes trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor are expected to decide on Monday when the case will resume after his new defence team asked for a delay.
The trial chamber of the Sierra Leone tribunal, moved to The Hague for Taylor's trial, will hold a procedural hearing Monday to discuss the request of Taylor's new lawyers to postpone the trial until January 7, 2008. The prosecution has supported the move but said in a separate motion that the length of the adjournment should be decided by the judges.
Taylor, 59, the first African head of state to stand trial before an international court for war crimes, sacked his first lawyer on the grounds that he had no chance of receiving a fair hearing.
His trial officially opened on June 4 but the case got bogged down by the legal wrangling about Taylor's defence and was delayed several times.
Finally a new defence team was installed mid-July but lead counsel Courtenay Griffiths has argued he need more time to prepare. The defence already has about 40 000 pages of witness statements and documents to read through with many more expected to come as the case moves forward.
Once one of Africa's most feared warlords, Taylor has pleaded not guilty to all 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity including murder, rape and using child soldiers during the brutal 1991-2001 civil war in Sierra Leone.
Around 120 000 people were killed in the Sierra Leone conflict, with rebels mutilating thousands more, cutting off arms, legs, ears or noses.
Taylor is accused of arming, training and controlling Sierra Leone's notorious Revolutionary United Front (RUF), responsible for many of the mutilations, in exchange for still-unknown amounts of diamonds used to fund war.