Now that former Liberian President Charles Taylor has wrapped up his defense against charges that he butchered, raped and enslaved fellow Africans to enhance his personal wealth through diamonds, it’s time for the prosecutors to cross-examine.
For the past three months, Taylor, the 61-year-old ex-ruler, has denied the allegations against him, arguing that he was a peacekeeper, not a warmonger, and that the Liberian government, under his control, even tried to broker peace between Liberia and neighboring Sierra Leone. "My government negotiated the peace in Sierra Leone," Taylor said under questioning from his defense counsel at The Hague on Monday.
The U.N.-backed tribunal is being held in The Hague for security reasons.
Taylor, the first African ruler to stand trial for war crimes, said that he was set up by U.S. and British governments that wanted him out of power, and allegations that he murdered, raped, mutilated and forced children to fight in war are false.
Prosecutors, however, contend that Taylor led the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels “to win control of neighboring Sierra Leone's diamond mines and destabilize its government to boost his regional influence during the country's 1991-2002 civil war,” Reuters News reports.
Some 250,000 people were killed during the period, according to U.N. figures.
"We will directly challenge Mr. Taylor in three ways – on the accuracy, the truthfulness and the completeness of his testimony," acting prosecutor Joseph Kamara said.