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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid