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

As US Strikes Syria, China Sees Parallels at Home

Beijing is debating how much support to give international coalition against IS militants and trying to figure out how many Chinese nationals may have joined group overseas More

CDC: Ebola Could Infect 1.4 M by 2015

US health officials say if efforts to curb the outbreak are not increased, cases will soar dramatically by early next year More

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in 5 Countries

US Agency for International Development partners with celebrities to call attention to importance of education for girls worldwide 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.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
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