March 30, 2006
Liberian Warlord Taylor Brought to Justice
Former Liberian president Charles Taylor, known for his illegal exportation of rough diamonds to fund a bloody decade-long rebellion in Sierra Leone, may be on his way to the Netherlands to stand trial for war crimes following a tense week spent securing Taylor's arrest.
Two weeks ago, Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleafsaid asked the coutnry of Nigeria, where Taylor was living in exile, to extradite the warlord so he could stand trial in a special U.N.-backed war crimes court in Sierra Leone. This past Saturday, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo agreed.
However, before Taylor could be taken into custody, he disappeared from his home in Nigeria, launching a multi-nation manhunt. Nigeria captured Taylor on the border with Cameroon two days after his disappearance and arranged for his immediate deportation to Liberia, where U.N. peacekeepers arrested him at the airport and arranged for him to be shipped to the war court in Sierra Leone, according to The New York Times.
On Thursday, Sierra Leone, concerned that Taylor's presence in the country could spark unrest among his remaining loyalists, requested that the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands find a new place for Taylor's trial. The Dutch government says it has been asked to hold the trial in the Netherlands and to provide space in a high-security jail cell at The Hague, the Times reports.
Taylor will be tried for his support of the rebels in Sierra Leone's civil war, during which 50,000 people died. Taylor is also reputed to have started a civil war in Liberia that killed 250,000 people, charges for which he is not answering during his war crimes trial. To fund these wars, Taylor faciliated the smuggling of rough diamonds out of Liberia, becoming part of Africa's conflict diamond crisis.