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Liberia's Taylor: No Problem Displaying Skulls


Former Liberian President Charles Taylor has told a war crimes court he saw no problem with his rebel forces displaying human skulls at checkpoints during a 1989 revolution.

In his third day of testimony Thursday in The Hague, the former Liberian leader said the skulls of enemy fighters were used as a symbol of death in the conflict that swept him into power.

Mr. Taylor is facing 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his involvement in the 1991 to 2002 civil war in neighboring Sierra Leone.

Prosecutors say rebels backed by Mr. Taylor in Sierra Leone resorted to tactics that included amputation, rape, enslavement of women and using child soldiers.

He has denied all allegations, calling them lies and rumors.

On Thursday, Mr. Taylor testified that skull symbols are used by Western fraternal organizations. He said that after seeing human skulls at the checkpoints he determined there was nothing wrong with the practice.

The 61-year-old Mr. Taylor is being tried by the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone. The trial is being held in the Netherlands because of fears that his presence in Sierra Leone would spark unrest.

Mr. Taylor is the first African head of state to be tried by an international court. His testimony is expected to last several weeks.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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