News / Africa

Charles Taylor War Crimes Trial Ends

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor during his trial at the U.N.-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in Leidschendam (file)
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor during his trial at the U.N.-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in Leidschendam (file)

The war crimes trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor has ended after more than three years.  A verdict from the U.N.-backed special court is expected later this year.

Mr. Taylor is pleading not guilty to 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged support of rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone who murdered, raped, and mutilated civilians during the country's civil war.

Chief prosecutor Brenda Hollis asked judges to find Mr. Taylor guilty on all counts.

"Credible evidence in this case proves this accused guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of each and every count of this indictment," she said.

Mr. Taylor's lead defense attorney Courtenay Griffiths says the prosecution is making assumptions in the absence of proof.

"It is somewhat surprising that there is very little direct evidence to link the accused to the crimes alleged," he said.  "For the most part, this prosecution's attempt to link the accused to the alleged crimes has largely focused on hearsay, circumstantial evidence, and broad assumptions."

Griffiths says prosecutors have "besmirched the lofty ideals of international criminal law by turning this case into a 21st century form of neocolonialism." Hollis says Griffiths overlooks the fact that it was the government of Sierra Leone that asked the United Nations to establish this special court.

"And there is also a perverse sort of logic in this argument. And the logic seems to be that unless the heads of African states will create courts or can create courts to punish crimes within their country, even crimes that offend everyone of us as members of the global community, unless they do that, the rest of the world should simply butt out," she said. "Because if they don't do it, then these victims should be left without justice. Somehow they deserve lesser justice. We suggest to you that is not the case."

Griffiths criticized Hollis for calling to the stand the British model Naomi Campbell who allegedly received diamonds from Mr. Taylor following a dinner in South Africa. Campbell testified that she did not know who sent her what she called several "dirty looking stones" until breakfast the next morning. Griffiths told the court he is at a loss as to how a gift of diamonds in South Africa links Charles Taylor to the purchase of arms.

"The calling of Naomi Campbell was a complete disaster for the prosecution," he said. "My learned friend, Miss Hollis, was left looking at a bleeding hole in her foot and a smoking gun in her hand, asking 'I didn't know it was loaded.' Because they ended up first of all seeking to impeach their own witness. Then when that didn't work trying to abandon her. 'Oh, she is not a prosecution witness after all.' Well who obtained the subpoena to call her?"

Griffiths says Mr. Taylor is the victim of "selective prosecution" because Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore were equally responsible for backing rebels in Sierra Leone. Hollis says no one's role in this conflict compares with Mr. Taylor's

"He was at the very center of the web of the crimes in Sierra Leone. Gadhafi? Compaore? They helped build that web and they helped maintain that web through Charles Taylor," she said. "The international community did not go to Gadhafi, did not go to Blaise Compaore. They went to Charles Taylor because he was the one who had control over leaders of these groups that were perpetuating such horrific crimes."

The U.N.-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone can not impose the death penalty. So if convicted, Mr. Taylor faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

You May Like

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid