Taylor has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges arising from his alleged support for Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels. Here are some key facts about Sierra Leone's 1991-2002 civil war.
* The war began in 1991 when ex-army corporal Foday Sankoh and his Revolutionary United Front took up arms against then President Joseph Momoh, seizing towns near Liberia's border.
* Although the rebels found some popularity at first, they earned a reputation for murder, rape, mutilation and recruiting child soldiers. Other factions also committed atrocities.
* The war was funded partly by diamonds mined in southern and eastern Sierra Leone. This helped lead to a global campaign against so-called "blood diamonds" mined in conflict zones.
* A group of army officers allied to the rebels overthrew elected President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah in 1997. A Nigerian-led regional force reinstated Kabbah within a year.
* A truce was agreed in 1999 after heavy fighting in Freetown, but it fell apart in 2000. Former colonial power Britain sent troops to help a struggling U.N. force.
* Driven back into the countryside, rebels allowed U.N. troops to deploy to the areas they held in 2001 and disarmament was completed in 2002. The war was formally declared over.
* Kabbah was re-elected in May 2002. The RUF, standing as a political party, won little support in the ballot. Sankoh died in prison in 2003 while facing a war crimes indictment.
* The death toll from the war is estimated at 50,000 in a country that now has over 6 million people. Sierra Leone was the world's second poorest country in 2006 going by a U.N. ranking.
- Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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