Taylor on Trial in the Hague

Charles Taylor is currently on trial at the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague. It seems the US press isn’t covering this story very much. However, it is significant. Taylor is the first African leader to be tried by the court. An article for the Liberian newspaper, The Inquiry, summarizes:

Lawyers for Charles Taylor, ex-president of Liberia, have told his trial for crimes against humanity that he tried to bring peace to the country. He denies 11 charges at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague, including murder, rape and torture.
Prosecutors say he controlled rebels who carried out atrocities during Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war. Mr Taylor is due to give evidence on Today. He is the first African leader to be tried by an international court.

It appears that Taylor began his trial with big time theatrics. Christian Science Monitor blogger Mathew Clark writes:

We’ve seen this movie before. You know, the one where the brutal dictator finally gets his day in court only to turn into a drama queen, angrily denouncing the court as a charade one minute, crying about being misunderstood the next. (”They just don’t understand me, your honor. I did everything for them.” Sniff, sniff … weep.)

This time it’s Liberia’s former leader and chief warlord, Charles Taylor. The first African head of state to be charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity “swaggered into the witness stand in the Hague to plead his innocence,” reports The Times of London.

The UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone indicted Mr. Taylor in June 2003 on 17 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity over the 1991-2002 war in Sierra Leone but condensed the charges to 11 counts in 2006. The prosecution has closed it case after bringing in a range of witnesses to tell stories of violence, rape, and amputation. Now it’s Taylor’s turn to tell his side.

It will be interesting to see the outcome of this trial. I am still looking forward to the day when all countries of the world, including the USA, take the court in the Hague more seriously. World leaders need to be aware that there will be serious consequences if their actions cause massive amounts of pain and suffering among people. Hopefull Bush and Cheney will be heading to the Hague next.

I read the book “a long way gone” about a child soldier in Sierra Leone during the civil war. It is a heart wrenching account. I hope justice is served to Mr. Taylor for his role the atrocities.

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