The United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone announced today that it has appointed an experienced lawyer from the United States as its next Chief Prosecutor.Stephen Rapp, 57, has been serving as Chief of Prosecutions at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) since May last year, supervising the prosecution of those accused of the worst crimes during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.Before joining the ICTR, Mr. Rapp worked as a US Attorney in the state of Iowa for almost eight years, and also spent time as an elected member of the Iowa Legislature and as a lawyer with the US Senate Judiciary Committee.Mr. Rapp succeeds Desmond de Silva, who completed his term at the Special Court in June. Deputy Prosecutor Christopher Staker has served as Acting Prosecutor since Mr. de Silva’s departure.Mr. Rapp’s appointment, which is effective from 1 January, lasts for three years or a shorter period if the Special Court completes its programme of work before then.The Special Court, an independent tribunal established jointly by the UN and Sierra Leone, is tasked with bringing to justice those responsible for atrocities committed after 30 November 1996, during the country’s brutal civil war.So far 11 people have been indicted on various charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international humanitarian law.The Special Court has jurisdiction over the case against the notorious former Liberian President Charles Taylor, whose trial will be held in The Hague.

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