News / Africa

Former Liberian President Speaks at War Crimes Sentencing Hearing

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor looks up to the public gallery as he waits for the start of his sentencing hearing in Leidschendam, near The Hague, Netherlands, May 16, 2012
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor looks up to the public gallery as he waits for the start of his sentencing hearing in Leidschendam, near The Hague, Netherlands, May 16, 2012

Multimedia

Audio
VOA News

Former Liberian president Charles Taylor has said he has "deepest sympathies" for those who suffered during Sierra Leone's brutal civil war - but stopped short of apologizing for atrocities committed by rebels he armed in exchange for diamonds.


Instead, Taylor told judges in The Hague Wednesday that his actions during the bloody conflict were "done with honor" to bring peace to the Sierra Leone.


"I say with all stupor [sic] that my actions were genuine and done with one thing in mind - helping to bring peace to Sierra Leone, thus providing an enabling environment for progress in both countries, Liberia being my constitutional responsibility as president," he said.


The former president made a 20-minute appeal for leniency before judges at a sentencing hearing on Wednesday.


The U.N.-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone convicted Taylor last month on 11 counts of crimes against humanity, including acts of terrorism, murder, rape and the recruitment of child soldiers.


Prosecutors have asked the 64-year-old former leader to be sentenced to 80 years in prison. Taylor's attorney's have argued an 80-year jail term would be overly harsh and place too much blame on Taylor.


He is due to be sentenced on May 30.


During his remarks on Wednesday, Taylor accused the prosecution of paying witnesses to testify against him and accused the court of being part of a Western conspiracy against him and other black Africans.


Prosecutors said he armed rebels during Sierra Leone's civil war in the 1990's in exchange for so-called "blood diamonds," mined in eastern Sierra Leone.


The court found Taylor did not have command and control of the rebels, but was aware of their activities and provided them with weapons and other supplies.

Taylor is the first African head of state to be brought before an international tribunal to face charges for mass atrocities and violations of international humanitarian law.
 

VOA reporter Joe De Capua interviewed Mark Ellis, Executive Director of the International Bar Association, about the prosecution's efforts to have Taylor receive a very long prison sentence. To listen to interview click on the link below.
De Capua interview with Mark Ellis
De Capua interview with Mark Ellisi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs