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Former Liberian President Denies War Crimes Charges

  • Kate Thomas

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor has testified at his war crimes trial in the The Hague that he never sent weapons to Sierra Leone. The trial has now finished its third week.

Prosecutors in The Hague have accused former Liberian President Charles Taylor of 11 counts of war crimes allegedly committed during the civil war in Sierra Leone. Among the allegations, prosecutors say he provided weapons to the Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone in exchange for access to so-called 'blood diamonds."

But, on Thursday, the 61-year-old Taylor rejected the allegations of a prosecution witness who said Taylor had transported arms to Sierra Leone by road.

"I say it bluntly, it's a lie. Bluntly, that's as blunt as I can get," Taylor said.

He said there was not even a road from Liberia to that part of Sierra Leone.

"There is no such thing then, there is no such thing today in the Republic of Liberia," Taylor said. "That anyone in his sound mind and body can say that you can get in a truck and drive from Monrovia through Tubmanburg, Gborpolu, all the way through Fassama and come up to Salaye and Zorlewu. It's not possible. If you really want to make it up, fine, but it was not possible then, it is not possible now."

The former president also denied allegations that rebels under his command in Liberia engaged in cannibalism. Some witnesses have alleged that National Patriotic Front fighters in Liberia ate the organs of those they had killed.

He alleged that the U.N. wrongly linked him to Liberians fighting in Sierra Leone. He said that misconception had landed him in jail.

The former Liberian president first took the stand in his defense on July 14. He has dismissed the war crimes charges against him as "lies" and said he had nothing to gain from destabilizing Sierra Leone.

He is the first African leader to be tried at a U.N.-backed court.

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