News

    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
     Previous   Next 
    by: Emmanuel
    April 26, 2012 9:24 AM
    America is not a member. I suggest that all the countries withdraw from the ICC until America can become a member. The ICC is a joke. African must withdraw now.

    by: Emmanuel
    April 26, 2012 9:18 AM
    Charles Taylor found guilty for crimes committed by RUF but the woman [Ellen Johnson Sirleaf] who financed the war that spilled over to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Ivory Coast is president of Liberia. Wow, how about that for justice.

    by: David
    April 26, 2012 9:15 AM
    The wheels of justice do turn slowly.

    President Robert G. Mugabe and Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe both should take special notice of this proceeding.

    by: Sam
    April 26, 2012 7:36 AM
    Only African leaders will be sent to this racist court, and none of them will ever found innocent. SAD DAY FOR AFRICA.

    by: esmond wang
    April 26, 2012 7:34 AM
    why not prosecute Mao Zedong, who also committed crimes of killing Chinese people during the civil war and after the civil war when he actually controlled china. he also supported the dictatorship in other countries like North Korea, where the dictator also killed a lot of people.

    by: Samuel L. Leamah
    April 26, 2012 7:21 AM
    Sad day for Africa, Liberia is now Example, great day in Africa

    by: Sheriff
    April 26, 2012 7:10 AM
    Finally, this vedict is a precedence to all naive individual who has attrocity under their sleeves. This is not about racism as proclaimed by some commentators, it about paying restitutions for your heinous crimes against poor people.

    by: sando kemokai
    April 26, 2012 6:57 AM
    May the Lord be with hem.

    by: sando kemokai
    April 26, 2012 6:57 AM
    May the Lord be with hem.

    by: SEN Hourn
    April 26, 2012 6:18 AM
    What about Nixon ordered bombing Cambodia where 150 000 innocent citizens were killed. Who is to tried? Kissinger is still alive. He too is criminal against humanity. Get him tried.
    Comments page of 3
     Previous   Next 

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora