News / Africa

Court Admits Wikileaks Documents in Former Liberian President's Trial

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor is seen at the U.N.-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in Leidschendam, Netherlands, 05 Aug 2010
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor is seen at the U.N.-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in Leidschendam, Netherlands, 05 Aug 2010
Amanda Fortier

Judges at the war crimes trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor have admitted into evidence two Wikileaks documents that appear to question the impartiality of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.  The decision comes just days before prosecutors and defense attorneys present their closing arguments in Mr. Taylor's war crimes trial.  

Mr. Taylor is pleading not guilty to 11 counts of crimes against humanity for his alleged support of Revolutionary United Front rebels during a 10-year civil war in neighboring Sierra Leone.

His trial is drawing to a close after more than three years of testimony.

The secret U.S. cables released by Wikileaks are nearly two years old and appear to reveal doubts over the impartiality of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.  An April 2009 document shows concern that Justice Julia Sebutinde has a timing agenda.  Sebutinde is the only African judge presiding.  

The document suggests she may have deliberately slowed court proceedings to ensure that she heads the Trial Chamber when they deliver Taylor’s final sentence.

"We are closely following the trial," said attorney Larry Thomas, who works in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia.  "I think it is going well with witnesses taking the stand.  But the Wikileaks information has the propensity to start a process, but we are watching the process with eagle eyes."

Other Wikileaks cables suggest the United States had concern about pro-Taylor groups organizing themselves in the rural parts of Liberia.  The same cable said the U.S. government’s best option was to ensure that Mr. Taylor is jailed for a long time, even if it meant bringing the case over to the United States where he could be tried for financial crimes or with new laws against the use of child soldiers.

University of Liberia political science student Maxell Siemon says the cables damage the court's credibility.

"It means that the trial is politically motivated and the true essence of it will not be realized," Siemon said. "So in this manner, I am disappointed in the trial and I think it is like a witch-hunt for Mr. Taylor, because if he was judged from what the U.S. ambassador said regarding Taylor coming back to this region, it will mean that the region will be destabilized."

Aaron Coleman is a small trader in Monrovia.  He has been following Taylor’s trial closely.

"All we prefer is a fair trial where his lawyers will feel comfortable, Liberians, Africans, the international community also will feel comfortable," he said. "What I believe, that should serve as a deterrent, that should serve as a warning to other Liberians, to other citizens, to other people from Africans, not only Africa, but the world at large."

Mr. Taylor's trial is being held at space rented from the International Criminal Court in The Hague, because of fears that a trial in Sierra Leone could spark regional unrest.

The prosecution and defense are expected to deliver their closing arguments on February 8.  If convicted, Mr. Taylor will serve prison time in Britain.  The U.N.-backed tribunal does not impose the death penalty.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid