The United States is providing millions of dollars to fund the trial of Charles Taylor, the former Liberian president facing war crimes charges on international court.

Taylor is accused of fueling a bloody civil war in Liberia and neighboring Sierra Leone that led to widespread murder, rape and mutilation.

He has pleaded not guilty to charges that include five counts of crimes against humanity and five counts of war crimes.

Washington said it expedited the $4.5 million grant because the court is facing a financial crisis.

"By all calculations, the court would have run out of money by early December, which could have jeopardized the continuation of the Charles Taylor trial before the court reached a verdict," the State Department said in a news release Tuesday.

The U.S. urged the international community to donate to the court before its financial resources run out.

Taylor is on trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands. United Nations officials and the Sierra Leone government jointly set up a special tribunal to try those who played the biggest role in the atrocities.

Officials moved the trial from the Sierra Leone capital of Freetown over concerns it would spark instability in the region.

It's the first time an African head of state has faced mass atrocities and war crimes charges at the international court.

"The Taylor prosecution delivers a strong message to all perpetrators of atrocities, including those in positions of power that they will be held accountable," the State Department said.

Prosecutors allege that Taylor, who was president of Liberia from 1997 to 2003, fueled the lengthy civil war that killed tens of thousands using riches from a diamond trade. The so-called blood diamonds are mined in war zones to support rebels and warlords. Blood diamonds have fueled bloody conflicts in Africa for more than a decade.

The trial has included testimony from actress Mia Farrow and supermodel Naomi Campbell.

In August, Campbell testified that Taylor gave her "dirty-looking" uncut diamonds in 1997 as a gift. Prosecutors were hoping her testimony would tie him to blood diamonds.

The trial opened in 2007, but Taylor boycotted the first session.

It's expected to end by next year and the appeal process could end by 2012, according to the State Department.


Source: CNN