Face to face with Charles Taylor (Part 2)

(continued from April 6)

It was to be expected that the defence would like to have all charges against former Liberian President Charles Taylor dismissed. His counsel, Mr Morris Anyah, argued in a lenghty submission that took all day (yesterday) that the evidence presented was too flimsy to warrant a conviction. He acknowledged that terrible things had happened in Sierra Leone during the 11-year conflict, but denied Charles Taylor’s role in the planning or execution of the atrocities which resulted in hundreds of thousands of victims.

After Mr Anyah concluded his submission, prosecution counsel Ms. Brenda Hollis responded announcing that the prosecution wants to respond on April 9, which was accepted by the judges. Hence, the prosecution response will take place at 9:30 A.M. this Thursday.

I will not easily forget the looks of Mr Taylor during this day. I observed him closely and was astonished by the lack of emotions. It was only at two occasions that I noted a different attitude. One was at 10:30 A.M. when the defence counsel elaborated on the accusation of enlisting child soldiers. The former Liberian president then nervously moved in his chair, visibly feeling uncomfortable. The second time was when the death of Samuel Bockarie, aka Mosquito, was mentioned. It is widely believed that Samuel Bockarie, a one time ally of Charles Taylor, was murdered with his family upon orders of the warlord turned President. Mr Taylor frantically wrote notes during this episode of Mr Anyah’s submission.

It is recalled that Samuel Bockarie was one of Mr Taylor’s top commanders in both Sierra Leone and Liberia. He was also involved in the conflict in neighbouring Ivory Coast, assassinating Ivorian rebel leader Felix Doh upon orders of then President Taylor. After the prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone had indicted Samuel Bockarie in March 2003, accusing him of crimes against humanity, General Mosquito, as Sam Bockarie was also known, threatened to ‘spill the beans’ if he were handed over to the SCSL. After killing Bockarie, Taylor’s troops also executed his wife, his mother and at least three of his children. The Liberian Government’s promise to investigate the circumstances surrounding the mysterious death of the former warlord never resulted in more clarity.
But Charles Taylor does not stand trial for the killing of Sam Bockarie and his family since this took place in Liberia. The SCSL’s mandate is limited to crimes committed in Sierra Leone. Liberia has decided not to use an international tribunal for the prosecution of those accused of atrocities during the country’s 14-years civil war, but instead it has opted for a Truth and Reconciliation Committee (TRC).
To be continued..
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