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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Friday, June 16, 2006; Posted: 12:51 p.m. EDT (16:51 GMT)

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -- The U.N. Security Council on Friday authorized the transfer of former Liberian leader Charles Taylor to The Hague to stand trial for war crimes in a special chamber of a Sierra Leone tribunal.

Taylor, seen as the mastermind behind intertwined conflicts in Liberia and Sierra Leone, is being held in a prison cell guarded by Mongolian U.N. peacekeepers in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

He faces 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for backing Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front rebels, who sent drugged child soldiers into battle and mutilated and raped civilians during the conflict.

A resolution adopted unanimously by the 15-nation U.N. Security Council asked Secretary-General Kofi Annan to help with the legal and practical arrangements required to send Taylor to the Netherlands.

Britain drafted the resolution after promising on Thursday to jail Taylor, one of Africa's most feared warlords, if he was found guilty, paving the way for the trial to be moved.

The Netherlands had agreed to admit Taylor for the trial only if a place were found, in advance, to take him afterward. The International Criminal Court, also based in The Hague, has agreed to lend the U.N.-backed tribunal in Sierra Leone a cell and a courtroom during the trial.

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