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Court to issue verdict in Charles Taylor trial next month

By Faith Karimi, CNN
updated 7:09 AM EST, Fri March 2, 2012
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor pictured on February 8, 2011 during his trial at the U.N. Special Court for Sierra Leone.
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor pictured on February 8, 2011 during his trial at the U.N. Special Court for Sierra Leone.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Taylor is the first African ruler to appear before an international war crimes tribunal
  • He has pleaded not guilty to crimes against humanity and war crimes
  • Prosecutors allege he fueled a bloody civil war in Liberia and neighboring Sierra Leone
  • His trial included testimony from dozens, including supermodel Naomi Campbell

(CNN) -- An international tribunal will issue a verdict in the war crimes trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor next month, the United Nations said.

Taylor, who led Liberia from 1997 to 2003, was the first African ruler to appear before an international war crimes tribunal.

Prosecutors allege he armed rebels and fueled a bloody civil war that led to widespread murder, rape and mutilation in Liberia and neighboring Sierra Leone.

He has pleaded not guilty to charges including five counts of crimes against humanity and five counts of war crimes. The U.N-backed war crimes court said it will issue its ruling April 26.

Taylor has been on trial since 2007 at the special court for Sierra Leone in The Hague, Netherlands. United Nations officials and the Sierra Leone government jointly set up the tribunal to try those who played the biggest role in the atrocities.

In 2010, the United States said the trial faced a financial crisis and pledged to expedite a $4.5 million grant to the court. At the time, Washington urged the international community to donate to the court before its financial resources ran out.

Closing arguments occurred last year.

During the trial, the judges heard testimony from more than 100 people, including Taylor and supermodel Naomi Campbell

Campbell testified that Taylor gave her "dirty-looking" uncut diamonds as a gift during a dinner in South Africa. Prosecutors were hoping her testimony would tie him to so-called blood diamonds used to fund rebels during the war.

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