Sir Desmond de Silva QC, the Prosecutor who succeeded in negotiating former President Charles Taylor’s transfer to the Special Court for Sierra Leone and subsequently to The Hague for trial is dead.
Former President Taylor, the ex-husband of Liberia’s current Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor was indicted, prosecuted and found guilty for aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sierra Leone. He is currently serving a 50 year jail term in a British prison.
In a statement issued by the former Special court now referred to as the Residual Special Court, Sir de Silva passed away on Saturday in the UK. Desmond was the first Deputy Prosecutor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone. He succeeded David M. Crane as Prosecutor in 2005, but resigned in June 2006 on the orders of his doctor, and to spend more time with his family.
Following his departure, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2007.Prosecutor Brenda Hollis voiced the feelings of current and former Court staff, saying “This is a sad day for all of us.”
Registrar Binta Mansaray recalled that it was Desmond who succeeded in negotiating the transfer of Charles Taylor to the Special Court, and that he played a key part in arranging for his trial in the Hague.
“Much of the Special Court’s subsequent success was made possible by Desmond de Silva,” Ms. Mansaray said. “More than that, he remained a close friend and supporter of the Special Court and later of the Residual Special Court. He was passionate about achieving justice for the people of Sierra Leone. We will miss him greatly.”
-Othello B. Garblah