Former Liberian Leader Convicted of War Crimes

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor looks down as he waits for the start of a hearing to deliver verdict in the court room of the Special Court for Sierra Leone in Leidschendam, near The Hague, Netherlands, April 26, 2012.
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor looks down as he waits for the start of a hearing to deliver verdict in the court room of the Special Court for Sierra Leone in Leidschendam, near The Hague, Netherlands, April 26, 2012.
Lisa Bryant

Key Dates in Charles Taylor's Life

  • 1983: Flees Liberia after being accused of embezzling government funds
  • 1985: Escapes from a U.S. jail after one year in prison
  • 1989: Resurfaces in Liberia, launches rebellion
  • 1991: RUF rebels attack villages in Sierra Leone from Liberia
  • 1997: Elected president of Liberia
  • 2003: Special Court for Sierra Leone indicts Taylor on initial charges, months later he steps down as president and takes asylum in Nigeria
  • 2006: Arrested in Nigeria and sent to The Hague for trial
  • 2007: War crimes trial opens in The Hague
  • 2012: Convicted of aiding and abetting war crimes

An international court in the Hague has convicted former warlord and Liberian president Charles Taylor of aiding and abetting horrific war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during Sierra Leone's civil war. Taylor had pleaded not guilty to the charges and has the right to appeal.

Looking somber in a dark blue suit, former Liberian leader Charles Taylor stood silently while Presiding Judge Richard Lussick read out the verdict by a special United Nations tribunal in The Hague.

"The trial chamber unanimously finds you guilty of aiding and abetting the commission of the following crimes pursuant to article 6.1 of the statute; planning the commission of the following crimes in the attacks on Kono and Makeni in December 1998, and in the invasion of and retreat from Freetown between December 1998 and February 1999," said Lussick.

More specifically, the judges found the 64-year-old Taylor guilty of helping Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels who killed tens of thousands of people during Sierra Leone's decade-long civil war.

The court said Taylor received so-called "blood diamonds" in return for providing arms, ammunition, communications equipment and planning help to the rebels, who committed crimes that included murder, rape, conscripting child soldiers and sexual slavery.

But judge Lussick said the prosecution failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Taylor was part of a joint criminal enterprise - or that his influence on the rebels amounted to effective command and control of them.

"The trial chamber has found that while the accused held a position of authority among the RUF, the instruction and guidance which he gave to the RUF and RUF-ARFC were generally of an advisory nature and at times were, in fact, not followed by the RUF-ARFC leadership," Lussick said.

The two-hour reading of the judgement - in which judge Lussick offered graphic details of the war crimes - was closely followed around the world. Crowds packed the Hague courtroom, sending a torrent of Twitter messages across the Internet. Many in Liberia and Sierra Leone followed the events on TV and radio.

Human Rights Watch
spokeswoman Geraldine Mattioli-Zeitner said she was pleased with the verdict. "We think this is an historic moment," she said. "It's the first time a former head of state is prosecuted and judged for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed while he was in office."

Taylor has denied the charges against him. The Hague court has set another hearing on May 16 for additional oral arguments by the prosecution and defense - and for Taylor to address the court if he wants to. The sentencing is set for May 30, with Taylor expected to serve any prison sentence in Britain.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 3
by: Kwame P. Aboagye
April 30, 2012 2:15 AM
Charles Taylor should have been tried in Sierra Leone.

We know that this man caused such pain and anti-humanly inflictions by all his demonically acts and as Taylor committed all these anti-human rights crimes, it is justly that he should have been brought to our human rights courts in Africa, especially when he committed these murders in Sierra Leone.

Anyway justice has been done.

by: Sheriff
April 27, 2012 6:26 PM
Remember the slogan "you killed my ma, you killed my pa, I will vote for you". Taylor was arrested for his role in the Sierra Leonians civil war. He was the God father of Foday Sankor and supplier of all sort of weapons. He did not go on the front lines neither Mr. Sankor but they were the brain behind the artrocities.

by: Jonathan Iroezindu
April 27, 2012 9:14 AM

by: Judge
April 26, 2012 8:32 PM
Absolute power, greed, corruption and blood diamonds led to the horrific loss of so many lives and barbarity towards citizens in Sierra Leone. Hopefully others who were involved will face trial at the Hague.
However those Countries who bought the blood diamonds should be
identified along with the arms dealers and exposed to stop the Blood Diamond Trade, for obvious reasons.

by: Prince
April 26, 2012 1:16 PM
It was not charles Taylor that carry civil war in freetown, it was their own people...

April 26, 2012 11:13 AM
let me asking the people of here, this matter is eary when i compared what was happened in Somali, why that people standing the court instead of Charles Taylor

by: Palliser
April 26, 2012 10:52 AM
Why has it taken so so so long to bring this indivdual to the Hague?
in a civil war which has cost over 50,000 lives. How long will it take to
bring other individuals and their subordinates that carried out wrongful actions against civillians to the Hague. The UN needs to relook at this latest trial and what it can learn from it.

by: wakeni T
April 26, 2012 10:14 AM
It is sad that western justice be imposed to Africa and that our leaders are trying to make the ends meet, yet the very same people that are the cause of this African conflict are the ones to decide our leaders fate. Western society knows why we are in this, it is because of their greed, looting and immorality towards the African society that we are living the way we are now.

by: lawrence
April 26, 2012 10:12 AM
game and only useing Taylor to cover thereself, they are guilty with in themself and this funing looking so-call Judge Richard Lussick just read from their plan but not with Law with No proof.....where are the proof....this court show where Taylor was at the frontline in SL? Well I am a Liberian Refugee victime of this Liberian war n live presently in exlie.

by: Lawrence
April 26, 2012 9:58 AM
my qustion.
How Taylor Escapes? and where did he pass? because the USA we know have one of the best Security in the World......and Taylor leave without their concern is a Big Lie I believe that the USA UN and UK are playing a big
Comments page of 3

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs