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

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Despite Cease-fire, Myanmar Landmine Scourge Goes Unaddressed

    Myanmar has third-highest mine casualty rate in the world, according to Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, which says between 1999 to 2014 it recorded 3,745 casualties, 396 of whom died

    Video Energy Lacking at Annual Offshore Oil Conference

    The slump in oil prices that began in 2014 has taken a toll on the industry but all express confidence it will end eventually

    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.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora