A Nigerian high court has resumed preliminary hearings in a case brought against former Liberian president Charles Taylor, who has been living in exile in southeastern Nigeria since last year.
The case was brought by two Nigerians, Emmanuel Egbuna and David Anyaele, who accuse Mr. Taylor of supporting the rebel Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone during the war, in exchange for money from Sierra Leone's diamond trade.
A representative from one of the organizations supporting the plaintiffs, Maxwell Kadiri, says the men were horribly maimed by rebel forces.
"The two plaintiffs in this application were otherwise healthy looking, straightforward, frank Nigerian businessmen doing business within their sub-region," he said. "They suffered gross violations on their rights in Sierra Leone. They had their limbs cut off by forces loyal to RUF, and in fact those who meted out the inhuman treatment to them during the Sierra Leone war said they were acting on instructions of Mr. Taylor, the man in the white mansion in Liberia."
Mr. Taylor was granted asylum in Nigeria after bending to international pressure to relinquish power in Liberia, which had suffered from nearly two decades of civil war.
A U.N.-backed special court for war crimes, sitting in Sierra Leone, has indicted Mr. Taylor on 17 counts of human rights violations. But Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has refused to extradite Mr. Taylor, saying it is a matter of national honor to maintain the commitment of asylum.
Mr. Kadiri says President Obasanjo should be more concerned with granting justice to citizens who have suffered.
"And the question we want to ask is, in what context are we talking of honor here?" he asked. "What happens to those who had their guardians, their families killed, had their limbs cut off, were maimed and suffered fundamental abuses of their rights? How do we place that in the context of honor? What should be the primary responsibility of the government? Is it to its citizens? Is it to the protection of life and property and preservation of law and order? Or is it to uphold certain questionable honor obligations?"
According to Mr. Kadiri, the high court adjourned and the case is due to resume on September 15.
Last Friday, the U.S. administration froze the assets of Mr. Taylor and 28 people close to him, accusing him of "undermining Liberia's transition to democracy."