News

    Taylor Denies Jailing Journalists for Investigating Diamond Smuggling

    Former Liberian president Charles Taylor says he jailed foreign journalists because they were trying to assassinate him, not because they were investigating his alleged involvement with diamond smuggling in Sierra Leone.

    Multimedia

    Audio

    Former Liberian president Charles Taylor says he jailed foreign journalists because they were trying to assassinate him, not because they were investigating his alleged involvement with diamond smuggling in Sierra Leone.  Mr. Taylor is facing an 11-count indictment of crimes against humanity before a U.N. special court in The Hague.

    While president of Liberia, Charles  Taylor says a foreign television crew was detained for being part of a plot to assassinate him with a cancer-causing laser beam.  They were later released and expelled when his security forces could not determine who was behind the plot.

    As part of her cross-examination, Principal Trial Attorney Brenda Hollis says the journalists were detained for investigating his involvement with Sierra Leone's rebel Revolutionary United Front.

    Hollis:  "The truth of it is, these journalists were put in jail because they were going to investigate things that were really going on in your country.  That is the truth of it, isn't it Mr. Taylor?"
    Taylor:  "Totally untrue. Total nonsense.
    Hollis:  "Things like the lack of good governance in your country. They were going to investigate that weren't they?"
    Taylor:  "Total nonsense, no."
    Hollis:   "And they were going to investigate the ongoing criminal conduct of your subordinates against civilians in your country. Isn't that correct Mr. Taylor?"
    Taylor:  "Totally incorrect."
    Hollis:  "And they were going to investigate your criminal involvement with the RUF and Sierra Leone diamonds. Correct Mr. Taylor?"
    Taylor:  "That's the essence of your fallacy with my criminal conduct.  There was no such criminal conduct on my part, and I was not aware that they were there to investigate such."

    The former Liberian leader is pleading not guilty to an 11-count indictment that includes murder, rape, enslavement, and conscription of child soldiers.

    Prosecutors say he led RUF members across the border and acted as their effective leader for much of Sierra Leone's civil war.  Mr. Taylor's lawyers say any contact he had with those rebels ended before the jurisdiction of the U.N. Special Court for Sierra Leone begins.

    Mr. Taylor says journalists were free to report during his presidency. He rejects the prosecution assertion that he knew members of the imprisoned television crew were mistreated in Liberian custody.

    Hollis:  "And indeed you said you did not believe they had been mistreated, isn't that correct?"
    Taylor:  "I have said to you that it was not brought to my attention."
    Hollis:  "And indeed you said that if you were given evidence of that, then you would have the Liberian Attorney General take a tough stand against anyone involved.  You said that, did you  not?"
    Taylor:  "Well, I did say that.  You have to remember I was President of Liberia, Miss Hollis.  I was not working for the president.  I was president."
    Hollis:  "Mr. Taylor, I asked you a simple question.  Did you say that?"
    Taylor:  "I have answered your question, I was president."
    Hollis:  "Did you say that?"
    Taylor:  "You asked me the question and I have said to you that such matters were not brought to my attention.  And if they had been brought to my attention, of course as president at my level, I would have insisted that something happen to those responsible.  But such matters would not be brought to my attention.  They were not."

    This is the last case before the U.N. Special Court.  The court's Freetown session has closed after sentencing the last of the rebels indicted.  Mr. Taylor's trial was moved to The Hague because of concerns that his supporters might disrupt proceedings held in West Africa.  

    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.
    Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conferencei
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    May 30, 2016 5:11 PM
    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora