News / Africa

UN Court to Rule on Charles Taylor's Appeal

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor appears in court at the Special Court for Sierra Leone. January 22, 2013
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor appears in court at the Special Court for Sierra Leone. January 22, 2013
VOA News
A United Nations-backed special court will rule Thursday on former Liberian President Charles Taylor's appeal of his conviction on war crimes during the decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone.  
 
Taylor was convicted and sentenced to 50 years in prison last year on 11 counts of crimes against humanity, including acts of terrorism, murder, rape and the conscription of child soldiers.
 
Prosecutors accused Taylor of supporting the rebels in Sierra Leone with weapons and other supplies in exchange for so-called "blood diamonds." The former president has maintained his innocence throughout the trial.
 
His lawyers say there was no evidence that Taylor was directly involved with assisting the rebels, who have been accused of killing and mutilating thousands of civilians during the 11-year war. Taylor launched an appeal against his conviction in January this year, with his defense calling for it to be overturned because of his lack of direct criminal involvement.
 
The court hearings were delayed by the former leader's refusal to cooperate and efforts to fight its jurisdiction. Taylor denied all allegations of wrongdoing.
 
“Never, ever did I receive, whether it is mayonnaise or coffee or whatever jar, never received any diamonds from the RUF. It's a lie, it's a diabolical lie. Never,” said Taylor during the trial.
 
In August 2010, supermodel Naomi Campbell testified at the trial. Prosecutors said that during a visit to South Africa in 1997, Taylor gave Campbell a large rough cut diamond after a dinner hosted by Nelson Mandela. Campbell said she had been given “dirty looking pebbles” after the dinner in South Africa, but did not know if they were diamonds from Taylor. She gave the diamonds to Jeremy Ratcliffe, then-head of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund.
 
“I asked him to take them and do something good with them. He is someone that I trust and I know for a while and I believed that's what he would do,” said the British supermodel.
 
Taylor was first indicted in 2003, along with 12 other suspects. He was arrested in March 2006 during exile in Nigeria, and then moved to The Hague in June 2006 due to fears that a trial in Sierra Leone could kindle unrest in the country or neighboring Liberia.
 
During the trial, prosecutors called 91 witnesses to support their charges that child soldiers under Taylor's command were sent to battle drugged with amphetamines and marijuana.
 
The tribunal, which has no death penalty, was established by Sierra Leone and the United Nations to punish those responsible for serious human rights abuses in the African nation since 1996. It has completed cases against 8 of the 13 suspects, who have received sentences of up to 51 years in prison.
 
Taylor is the first head of state since the end of WWII to face charges of crimes against humanity before an international tribunal.

Reuters contributed to this report.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
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 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 Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
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.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
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