Wednesday 6 May 2009

Sierra Leone trial

A special United Nations court at The Hague has turned down a plea from former Liberian President Charles Taylor that charges of crimes against humanity that he faces should be dismissed. Taylor is being tried on 11 counts relating to his alleged role in the brutal civil war in neighbouring Sierra Leone, which cost tens of thousands of civilian lives. He is accused of bankrolling and equipping rebels who committed murder, rape, hacked off people's limbs, and used child soldiers.

Taylor had been a warlord who launched Liberia’s civil war in 1989, before being elected president in 1997. Two years later, though, an insurrection against him began and in 2003 he resigned under pressure from the United States. The trial is scheduled to resume on June 29, and if Taylor is convicted, he will serve his sentence in the UK.

Last month, an international court in Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown sent three rebel leaders to gaol for a total of 120 years for war crimes and crimes against humanity (see my blogs of March 4 and April 10) In Rwanda too, the process of holding people to account for their part in the country’s genocide goes on. (See my blogs of January 23, March 1, 4, 23, 25, April 9.)

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