War Crime: Charles Taylor Must Serve 50 Years As Injustice Was Alleged-Charles Taylor , Liberia’s former war leader and President will have to serve his 50 year jail sentence, the World Court in the Hague has ruled. He will be serving his 50-year war crimes sentence in the UK.
British Justice Minister Jeremy Wright on Thursday confirmed that the United Kingdom will host Taylor as he serves his jail term.
Sweden and Rwanda had also offered to take him in so he can serve his jail term in those countries.
His appeal had been rejected last month by a UN-backed special court in The Hague. The Court had ruled that his convictions had been proved beyond doubt.
He was sentenced in May 2012 for aiding rebels who committed atrocities in Sierra Leone during a protracted civil war.
In a statement, Mr Wright made the announcement to the Parliament.
The Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) found Taylor, 65, guilty of 11 crimes including terrorism, rape, murder and the use of child soldiers by rebel groups in neighbouring Sierra Leone during the 1991-2002 conflict.
He was found to have supplied weapons to the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels in exchange for a constant flow of so-called blood diamonds.
UK justice minister Jeremy Wright said today: ‘The conviction of Charles Taylor is a landmark moment for international justice.’
Last month Taylor lost his appeal against his convictions, which made him the first former head of state convicted by an international court since the Nuremberg trials of Nazi leaders after the Second World War.
The court’s ruling came more than a decade after Taylor was said to have helped rebels go on a murderous rampage across war-torn Sierra Leone. He was said to have aided raping, murdering and mutilating tens of thousands of innocent victims.
Taylor was said to have aided and abetted crimes committed by Revolutionary United Front and Armed Forces Revolutionary Council rebels, while knowing well the kinds of crimes they were committing.
Justice Malick Sow, one of the initial Presiding judges in the long-running crime against humanity preferred against former Taylor claimed there was injustice in the trial.
He relinquished his position as one of the presiding Judges on the case.
Breaking his silence six months after Taylor’s guilty verdict and imprisonment, he held that the former leader should have been pronounced innocent.
According to Justice Malick, Taylor Should have been made to walk free and haven’t been jailed for war crimes because there was not enough evidence to prove he was guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
When Taylor was convicted in April, 2012, Sow tried to read out a dissenting opinion, but was prevented from doing so by the court. He promptly left his position in protest.
According to him, Taylor “should have been a free man at this stage because I haven’t seen the proof of guilt of the accused,” Sow claimed in his first interview about Taylor’s trial, published in the December edition of New African magazine.
Sow could not be reached for comment by Reuters, but a person close to him verified his quotes in the interview.
“I couldn’t be indulgent in the face of the countless contradictions, lies, deceptions and manipulations in this trial, and conclude that the accused was guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes he was charged with,” Sow told the magazine.
“International justice cannot be based on rumours. These are mass crimes. This is where we must have the highest standard of proof. It’s about proving the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. But they didn’t even reach the lowest standard of proof.”
“In each of the very few times we discussed anything, there were very different opinions,” he said.
He said he had been excluded from the final discussions about Taylor, and questioned whether one of the three judges, who had already been appointed to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, should have remained as a judge at Taylor’s trial.
Presiding Judge George Gelaga King delivering his judgment said: ‘Their primary purpose was to spread terror. Brutal violence was purposefully unleashed against civilians with the purpose of making them afraid, afraid that there would be more violence if they continued to resist.’
Taylor was sentenced to 50 years in jail in May last year, and the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) dismissed the appeal and confirmed the sentence on September 26 this year.
The head of the SCSL then requested that Taylor now be transferred to a prison in the UK to serve his sentence.
In a statement to MPs today, Justice minister Mr Wright said: ‘The United Kingdom’s offer to enforce any sentence imposed on former President Taylor by the SCSL was crucial to ensuring that he could be transferred to The Hague to stand trial for his crimes.’
The International Tribunals (Sierra Leone) Act was backed by all parties in 2007 knowing it could mean Taylor would serve his sentence in the UK with the taxpayer picking up the bill, he said.
‘International justice is central to foreign policy. It is essential for securing the rights of individuals and states, and for securing peace and reconciliation.
‘The conviction of Charles Taylor is a landmark moment for international justice. It clearly demonstrates that those who commit atrocities will be held to account and that no matter their position they will not enjoy impunity.’
They also heard evidence from supermodel Naomi Campbell, who was questioned about blood diamonds Taylor was accused of having sent to her hotel room.
She described the objects she received as looking like ‘dirty pebbles.’
The court found Taylor provided crucial aid to rebels in Sierra Leone during that country’s 11-year civil war, which left an estimated 50,000 people dead before its conclusion in 2002.
Thousands more were left mutilated in a conflict that became known for its extreme cruelty, as rival rebel groups hacked off the limbs of their victims and carved their groups’ initials into opponents.
The rebels developed gruesome terms for the mutilations, offering victims the choice of ‘long sleeves’ or ‘short sleeves’ – having their hands hacked off or their arms sliced off above the elbow.
Prosecutors said he used the proceeds from so-called blood diamonds mined in the conflict zone to finance Taylor’s activities, which included advising and helping the rebels.
Morris Anyah, Taylor’s lead defence lawyer, complained that Taylor had been prosecuted because of a lack of friends in high places.
Referring to the diplomatic row over action against the regime in Syria, Mr Anyah said: ‘But for two powerful nations, two members of the Security Council – Russia and China – Bashar Assad would have been charged and indicted by the International Criminal Court. That is simply not happening because of political reasons.
‘Had Charles Taylor had as friends any of the five permanent members of the Security Council … this case I dare say would probably not have had the sort of traction it had.’
Because Syria is not a member of the International Criminal Court, only the Security Council asking the court to investigate could trigger jurisdiction there.
And Taylor’s supporters in Liberia remained loyal to the former warlord who was later democratically elected the country’s president.
The very idea of international courts has come under fire across Africa. The ICC has been accused of neo-colonial meddling in Kenya as it pursues cases against its president and deputy president.
‘This is complete international gangsterism,’ said Cyril Allen, former secretary general of Liberia’s National Patriotic Party. ‘The ICC was set up for Africans, to intimidate them and get their resources.’
Taylor’s brother-in-law Arthur Saye said he was not surprised by the verdict.
‘From day one my position has been that the trial of Mr Taylor was orchestrated by the powers that be – the Western powers,’ he told the Associated Press. ‘This was an international conspiracy.’
Several African states are considering withdrawing from the ICC, which has only ever prosecuted Africans
Read Justice Malick Sow news comments on the case on this link