International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Former Liberian President Convicted of War Crimes

I’m sure we will discuss this in class but today Charles Taylor was convicted of 11 counts of planning, aiding and abetting war crimes committed in Sierra Leone during that country’s civil war in the 1990s. He is the first head of state to be convicted by an international court since the Nuremberg trials after World War II. The Presiding Judge Richard Lussick of Samoa, said Mr. Taylor was guilty of involvement in crimes against humanity and war crimes including murder, rape, slavery and the use of child soldiers. The court, however, said the prosecution failed to prove that Mr. Taylor had direct command responsibility for the atrocities in the indictment.

The Times also highlighted the particular difficulties of prosecuting Mr. Taylor:

Prosecutors struggled with a legal puzzle of how to link them to Mr. Taylor. There was no paper trail showing orders. There was no record of Mr. Taylor ever going to Sierra Leone. He was not at the scene of the crimes, and they were not committed by the army of Liberia, which was under his command.

To build their case, prosecutors used radio and telephone intercepts and brought in radio operators who had connected Mr. Taylor’s mansion in Monrovia to the rebels in the bush in Sierra Leone.

People close to Mr. Taylor, his head of security, bodyguards and other associates, some of whom were relocated abroad as protected witnesses, testified about arms and ammunition shipments for the rebels and to seeing raw diamonds arriving as payment.

Bank records were displayed in court, showing how tax payments and other government income moved into Mr. Taylor’s accounts, ostensibly to pay for the war effort, or for himself.

Focusing on our most recent case studies on reparations,  the article doesn’t mention if the tribunal has set up procedures for reparations for those who were killed, former child soldiers and the thousands of amputees and mutilated victims.


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