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Liberia’s Charles Taylor Facing Judgment In War Crimes Case

Filed by KOSU News in World News.
April 26, 2012

Verdicts are being handed down this hour against former Liberian President Charles Taylor, who stands accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity for allegedly arming fighters in neighboring Sierra Leone in exchange for “blood diamonds.”

During a brutal war that ended 10 years ago, about 50,000 people died in Sierra Leone.

Taylor, who faces 11 charges, has been on trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands. “The historic verdicts at the Special Court for Sierra Leone,” says The Associated Press, “will mark the first time an international tribunal has reached judgment in the trial of a former head of state since judges in Nuremberg convicted Karl Doenitz, a naval officer who briefly led Germany after Adolf Hitler’s suicide.”

As the AP adds:

“Prosecutors cast Taylor, 64, as a ruthless leader who as president of neighboring Liberia funneled weapons, ammunition and other equipment to Sierra Leone rebels in return for diamonds mined by slave laborers in Sierra Leone.

“The rebels from the Revolutionary United Front and Armed Forces Revolutionary Council, groups notorious for hacking off limbs, noses and lips of their enemies. Most of their surviving leaders already have been convicted and imprisoned by the court.

“In seven months on the witness stand testifying in his own defense, Taylor portrayed himself as a statesman and regional peacemaker.”

We will update this post with the news as soon as it comes in. Also:

– NPR’s Eric Westervelt is due to discuss the case on Morning Edition.

– The BBC is live blogging and streaming video from the court here.

Update at 6:45 a.m. ET. “Aiding And Abetting” Proved, Court Finds:

The court finds the prosecution has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Taylor aided and abetted some of the crimes he’s accused of, the judge says, by providing, arms, ammunition and guidance to forces in Sierra Leone.

The court has also concluded, however, that the prosecution did not prove that Taylor is individually criminally responsible for some of the crimes.

Judge Richard Lussick continues to read through the findings.

Update at 6:15 a.m. ET. Judge Continues:

Judge Richard Lussick is still reading through the court’s findings — but hasn’t yet gotten to its judgments. As the BBC notes, he’s starting “to get a croaky throat after reading aloud for more than an hour.”

Update at 5:45 a.m. ET. Reading Of Findings Continues:

The lead judge continues to read from the court’s findings — but has not yet gotten to its judgments against Taylor. Note: The trial has stretched over more than three years and there have been 420 “trial days.”

Update at 5:15 a.m. ET. Reading Out The Charges:

The court session is starting with a reading of the charges against Taylor and the court’s conclusion that atrocities — murder, rape, sexual enslavement, the conscription of child soldiers and other crimes — did occur in Sierra Leone. It could be an hour or more, though, before the judgments against Taylor are announced and we learn whether he has been judged to be accountable. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

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