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.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    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 '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 New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    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 Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    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 Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    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.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.