News

Special Court Rejects Acquittal of Former Liberian President

The war crimes tribunal for Sierra Leone has rejected a defense motion to acquit former Liberian President Charles Taylor.

Defense lawyers asked the special court to acquit Mr. Taylor because they argue prosecutors failed to present evidence linking him to the planning, instigation, or execution of crimes committed during Sierra Leone's 10-year civil war.

The former Liberian leader pled not guilty to an 11-count indictment of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including acts of terrorism, murder, rape, sexual enslavement, and conscription of child soldiers.

At this point in the trial, judges were only to decide whether they have heard enough evidence to support a finding of guilt.

Dismissing the defense motion for acquittal in its entirety, presiding judge Richard Lussick says prosecutors have presented evidence that meets that threshold.

"The prosecution has adduced evidence that the accused provided arms, ammunition, financial assistance, manpower and other supplies to other participants in the joint criminal enterprise in furtherance of the common purpose, that he provided safe havens to other members, that he provided moral encouragement and military advice, the he facilitated the export of diamonds in return for arms, that he facilitated communication between the various members of the joint criminal enterprise, and that he had persons who he believed endangered the common purpose killed," he said.

Lussick restated that while the evidence presented could be used to find Mr. Taylor guilty, that does not mean the trial chamber will ultimately convict him.

Prosecutors say the former Liberian president led Revolutionary United Front rebels across the border in Sierra Leone and acted as their effective leader for much of the conflict.

Supporting the indictment of acts of terrorism, Lussick cited prosecution witnesses who testified Mr. Taylor was involved in planning the rebel "Operation No Living Thing," during which crimes set out in the indictment were systematically committed against the civilian population.

He also rejected a defense motion challenging the testimony of witnesses who referred to places in Sierra Leone by slightly different names than those in the indictment.

"It would not be appropriate or desirable to strike out the names of such locations given that a variety of languages and dialects are spoken in Sierra Leone and that some witnesses are illiterate.  Thus, names of locations mentioned by witnesses, which are similar, but not identical to names of locations that appear in the indictment may refer to the same location," he said.

With the rejection of their motion for acquittal, Mr. Taylor's lawyers are scheduled to open their defense case June 29.  They say the former Liberian rebel leader will testify in his own defense.

Mr. Taylor began a rebellion against Liberian President Samuel Doe in 1989.  He served as Liberian president from 1997 until 2003 when he was forced into exile in Nigeria.  He was arrested in 2006 on a warrant from the special court jointly established by the United Nations and the government of Sierra Leone.

His trial was moved to The Hague because of fears that his supporters might disrupt proceedings in neighboring Sierra Leone.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs