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.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.