News / Africa

    Charles Taylor Defense Says War Crimes Trial Politically Motivated

    Former Liberian President Charles Taylor awaits the start of the prosecution's closing arguments during his trial at the U.N.-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in Leidschendam, February 8, 2011
    Former Liberian President Charles Taylor awaits the start of the prosecution's closing arguments during his trial at the U.N.-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in Leidschendam, February 8, 2011

    Defense attorneys for former Liberian president Charles Taylor say his war crimes trial is politically motivated and should include Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Taylor's defense has begun its closing arguments in a trial that has lasted more than three years.

    Defense attorney Courtenay Griffiths says Taylor is the victim of "selective prosecution" for his alleged role in helping to arm rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone because Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was equally involved.

    "This was a court, ostensibly and publicly set up, we are told, to try those who bear the greatest responsibility," said Griffiths. "So why is Colonel Moammar Gadhafi not in the dock?"

    Griffiths says that selective prosecution shows that Taylor's trial is politically motivated.

    "We submit that it is to the shame of this prosecution that it has besmirched the lofty ideals of international criminal law by turning this case into a 21st century form of neocolonialism," said Griffiths. "And I am not apologizing for saying that."

    Taylor pled not guilty to 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged support of Sierra Leonean rebels from the Revolutionary United Front, or RUF.

    Prosecutor Nicholas Kumjian says Taylor bears primary responsibility for those rebels.

    "Charles Taylor created the RUF on his territory," Kumjian said. "Charles Taylor armed the RUF. His forces led the RUF into Sierra Leone in March 1991."

    While the Libyan leader and the Burkinabe president Blaise Compaore helped support those rebels, Kumjian says their involvement is in no way comparable to Taylor's actions.

    "The RUF, the evidence shows overwhelmingly in our view, was a proxy army of Charles Taylor. The RUF didn't fight for Blaise Compaore," he said. "It didn't fight, as far as we know, for Moammar Gadhafi. But the evidence is overwhelming that Charles Taylor used them not just in Sierra Leone. He used his proxy RUF army in Liberia to fight against his enemies there. He used them in Guinea to fight against his enemies and forces in Guinea to invade that country. He sent them to the Ivory Coast."

    Griffiths says the prosecution case is based largely on hearsay and circumstantial evidence.

    "The prosecution are making assumptions in the absence of proof that, in effect, put bluntly, where no proof is available, let's make it up," added Griffiths.

    As evidence of what he calls the political nature of this prosecution, Griffiths cites the U.S. government's receipt of Taylor's indictment two months before it was released.

    Prosecutor Kumjian says Griffiths assertion that this was unethical reflects an unfamiliarity with the workings of international criminal justice.

    "All international tribunals, including this one, have no police powers," Griffiths said. "The tribunals do not have the ability to arrest individuals. In order to affect an arrest, they need the cooperation of governments."

    Taylor's defense is scheduled to conclude its closing arguments Thursday, with prosecution rebuttal on Friday.  A judgment from the U.N.-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone is expected later this year.


    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    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 Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    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 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 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.