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.

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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
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