News

    Liberians Await Verdict in Charles Taylor Trial

    Former Liberian President Charles Taylor (file photo).
    Former Liberian President Charles Taylor (file photo).
    Kate Thomas

    On Thursday, the Special Court for Sierra Leone is set to deliver its verdict in the trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor, accused of masterminding some of the worst human rights abuses in recent African history.  However, in his native Liberia, Mr. Taylor still has some support. 

    The world will be watching Thursday as former Liberian President Charles Taylor learns his fate in an air-conditioned courtroom in The Hague, thousands of miles away from Sierra Leone.

    Key Dates in Charles Taylor's Life

    • 1983: Flees Liberia after being accused of embezzling government funds.
    • 1985: Escapes a U.S. jail after one year in prison.
    • 1989: Resurfaces in Liberia, launches rebellion.
    • 1991: RUF attacks villages in Sierra Leone from Liberia.
    • 1997: Elected president of Liberia.
    • 2003: Special Court for Sierra Leone indicts Mr. Taylor on initial charges, months later he steps down as president and takes asylum in Nigeria.
    • 2006: Arrested in Nigeria and sent to The Hague for trial.
    • 2007: War crimes trial opens in The Hague.

    Taylor is charged with 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity  committed during Sierra Leone's civil war - crimes that were allegedly concocted in neighboring Liberia while he served as president of that country.

    Taylor has never been tried for involvement in Liberia's civil war, which ended in 2003.  Despite leading a bloody rebellion in Liberia in the 1990s, he went on to become a popular president, largely due to his charismatic speeches and his efforts to subsidize the price of rice.

    As a result, the 64-year-old still has some supporters in his home country.

    Among them is Kemah Jones.  Like Taylor, she has four children.  But she has led a very different life to that of the former president, working as a street trader in the Liberian capital, Monrovia. "Taking Taylor to the court was very unfair. Our former president has done nothing wrong to be tried," she said. "The West is only trying to exercise its power and disgrace African leaders."

    Taylor was arrested and handed over to the court in 2006, three years after his indictment and subsequent resignation as president.

    The trial was transferred from Freetown to The Hague amid regional security concerns. It opened in 2007.

    Francis Togba is a plumber in Monrovia. He thinks the tribunal was biased from the beginning. "The entire process was mired with prejudice.  They have not shown any proof.  But I am confident that he will walk out of court as a free man," he noted. "They are doing everything to find him guilty.  I just don't trust the court."

    Prosecution's case

    Central to the prosecution's charges are witness reports that suggest Taylor created, armed, supported and controlled Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front rebels from Liberia.

    The prosecution argues that Taylor kept an ammunitions cache at his residence in Monrovia, known as White Flower, providing critical support to the rebels as they seized control of land and resources in Sierra Leone.

    White Flower still stands on the edge of Monrovia and the residence is maintained by Taylor's wife.

    In the reception room, a dusty peace award issued by regional bloc ECOWAS hangs on the wall, next to a signed portrait of former U.N. chief Kofi Annan.

    The prosecution argues that Taylor hid behind his reputation as a Liberian peacemaker, subverting regional peace accords in order to profit from the war in Sierra Leone.

    Lawrence Peters, a human rights advocate, lives near Taylor's residence in the Liberian capital. "We, in Liberia, are waiting to see the outcome of the trial. But I'm confident that the former president, Taylor, will be found guilty," he stated.

    Peters said that although the trial is about Sierra Leone, the verdict will also help Liberia to move forward.  He said a guilty verdict would sweeten the post-conflict bitterness in both Liberia and Sierra Leone. "Liberia and Sierra Leone have been very good sister countries.  It was a crisis that created a bitterness between the two countries.  I am very confident that the verdict will help the two countries, Liberia and Sierra Leone, to move forward," he said.

    Although Thursday's verdict will close a chapter in the shared history of Liberia and Sierra Leone, there may be a postscript.

    If Taylor is found guilty, his defense team is expected to appeal within two weeks.  If he is acquitted, the prosecution is likely to do the same.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: william
    April 26, 2012 4:43 AM
    Charles Taylor still have supporters throughout the land and birth Liberia. If the verdict was in his favor, coming back to +Liberia will bring fear in most of us that stay in this country from 1990 to his departure for the Hague.

    by: T.obediah Gborie
    April 26, 2012 2:34 AM
    Charles Taylor has set the future of the youth back. I sugest in my own opion as a liberian, charles taylor needs not to be set free all because bulk of our young friends, sisters, brothers have been opened to lot of wickness and braveness in our country. I believe that the verdict should have him free trial. if the 11counts have him guilty, he should be put in to prison for his lifetime.

    by: Tete Logan
    April 26, 2012 2:07 AM
    since the trial there have been no hard facts linking former president Taylor to the crimes that were committed in Sierra Leone. However we are Liberian therefore we are forgiving in nature and because of this forgiving nature we are prepare to accept the outcome of the trial today. But sierra Leone should not forget their parable that say "the rain does not fall at the door of one person"

    by: MORRIS TAWAH
    April 26, 2012 12:26 AM
    I personaly know that our former president ,s case is very unpredictable because ,this trial is surppoted by many big hands .So for me Taylor shuld just consider himself figthing a loose battle.

    by: Theodore Sie Scott
    April 25, 2012 7:28 PM
    I am of the view that the trial was free, fair and transparent and that whatever verdict that will be rendered by the Special Court will free and fair. Whatever Mr. Taylor is being tried for, he has being given his day in a court. Justice has being done to the people of Sierra Leone, Liberia, ECOWAS and even to Mr. Taylor and his family and friends.

    by: Emmanuel
    April 25, 2012 3:33 PM
    Sierra Leone has been at the center of Liberians demise. Did you know the NPFL first started to come out from Sierra Leone? Every Coup ever launched in Liberia were planned and launched from Sierra Leone. Nobody is prosecuting Sierra Leone for that.

    by: J.ALEXANDER TOTEH
    April 25, 2012 11:07 AM
    TAYLOR MIGHT LIKELY FREE FROM THE VERDICT ON TURSDAY, BUT THERE ARE ALOT BIG HANDS IN TAYLOR, SO, OUR FORM PRESIDENT WILL NOT GET A FAIR TRIAL THAT I KNOW.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.