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Dharamshala: Liberia's former president Charles Taylor has lost his defence lawyer while in the closing stages of his war crimes trial in the Hague.

Mr. Taylor faces 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He is accused of arming and controlling the vicious Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in neighbouring Sierra Leone, notorious for the mutilation of thousands of civilians in the 1990s, and of selling 'blood diamonds' which he received from the rebels as payment for providing them with weapons.

More than 100 witnesses have been heard during the trial, including actress Mia Farrow and supermodel Naomi Campbell, who allegedly received several uncut diamonds as a gift in 1997.

The trial began in June 2007 and is the first international trial of a former African Head of State to take place. If convicted, Mr. Taylor will face a prison sentence in the U.K. The trial is expected to draw to a close later this year.

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