Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sierra Leone Convicts Charles Taylor

Rebel Charles Taylor
Charles Taylor, former warlord and ex-president of Liberia, who was dragged from the presidency and brought before the Sierra Leone Special Court several years ago was this morning convicted of indirect involvement in the genocide and horrendous crimes perpetrated by elements of Revolutionary United Front on the civilian populace of Sierra Leone during that country's bloody civil war.

Charles Taylor, was a former Liberian civil servant found guilty of embezzlement of state funds. He was caught and jailed in USA, but managed to escape under dubious circumstances, only to emerge as the head of a rebel movement called the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) that had as its main purpose the overthrow of the bloody Liberian Dictator Samuel Kanyon Doe. Taylor's war against Doe was initially popular as Samuel K. Doe was a vicious and cold blooded killer who used state security forces to eliminate his rivals by announcing regular coup attempts against his government and brutally eliminating those involved.
Cold Blooded Killer

Taylor soon became as cold blooded a killer as the man he was trying to overthrow and his rebels embarked on a campaign of murder and ethnic cleansing. The NPFL was particularly cruel to Liberians of Madingo descent and embarked on the whole scale slaughter of thousands of Madingos and other unfortunate Liberians. As the war progressed, some elements of Taylor's forces led by Prince Johnson, a bloodthirsty drug addict and alcoholic who is today a key politician in Liberia, broke away and formed the Independent National Patriotic front of Liberia (INPFL). Prince Johnson became an obstacle to Taylor succeeding in capturing the capital. Eventually there was a stalemate with the country divided between loyal elements of Doe's government forces, Prince Johnson's INPFL and Charles Taylor's NPFL. With the stalemate and no one faction having the upper hand, all the factions embarked on committing atrocious acts against the civilian populace and Liberia became a killing field were human lives were nothing of value.
Retired Murderer turned
Senator Prince Y. Johnson

Other West African nations tired of seeing the widespread massacre, decided to intervene forcefully to put an end to the carnage. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) put together the a regional military group called Economic Community Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) with operational headquarters in Sierra Leone, under the command of Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone that was to act as a peace keeping and peace enforcement force with the main purpose of putting an end to the senseless slaughter of innocent civilians.

Charles Taylor saw ECOMOG as an obstacle to his quest for power and resisted the force, but with the support of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and Prince Johnson's INPFL, ECOMOG was able to land its forces in the capital Monrovia and occupy the harbor. Taylor never forgave Sierra Leone for being host to ECOMOG and vowed that "Sierra Leoneans would taste the bitterness of War" He then proceeded to help Foday Sankoh, a frustrated former Sierra Leone Army corporal turned photographer to put together a group of Sierra Leoneans called the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and launch an attack on Sierra Leone in 1991 that became one of the bloodiest civil campaigns ever fought on the African continent. The RUF embarked on full scale terror; burning, looting, maiming, raping, decapitations, amputations, disembowelment and every imaginable depravity under the sun, all in a bid to control and put the fear of the group in the people. Children as young as 6 were caught, given guns and made to kill their relatives. They were drugged and made to commit unmentionable crimes that have left them both physically and psychologically scarred for life.

Eventually ECOMOG was able to stabilize Liberia, Samuel Doe was captured and brutally murdered by Prince Johson and taped for all the world to see and elections were conducted that saw the Liberian people voting for no one else but Charles Taylor to lead them as a civilian president.
The Prince Johnson Horror Show-Murder of Samuel Doe
Sam "Maskita" Bockarie
But as they say, once a rebel, always a rebel. Even as president, Charles Taylor continued to behave with reckless abandon. He put his son called Chucky in charge of a special security team that continued to terrorise innocent Liberian people. He sponsored rebels in Sierra Leone with arms and ammunitions in return for raw uncut diamond and raw cocoa and coffee. Even when Foday Sankoh was in exile in Nigeria, where he was trapped by ex-Nigerian Strongman Sanni Abacha, Taylor continued his dealings with Sam "Maskita" Bockarie, a retired disco dancer that was the battle group commander for RUF, a young depraved killer that was responsible for most of the terrible crimes of RUF. He had sinister names for his attacks on civilians. "Operation no living thing" meant that his troops should kill everything that moved. They burnt towns and chopped limbs, all the while depending on Charles Taylor for arms.
President Taylor on Trial

Taylor Arrested
Taylor's wickedness finally caught up with him when a group of some of his ex fighters and his victims came together and launched a rebellion against his government that he could not handle. On the brink of defeat, he negotiated his way to Nigeria where he promised to live in obscurity. Of course Taylor was a man who never kept his promises. He attempted to escape, was caught and eventually found his way to Freetown charged with crimes against humanity.

Though the RUF rebels never gave up their godfather CharlesTaylor and denied his direct involvement,  the prosecutors at the war crimes tribunal in the Hague were able to prove that he was involved in giving them substantial military support and the court found him criminally responsible for planning the crimes committed during the attacks on Kono, Makeni and Freetown in Sierra Leone and collaborating with the AFRC Junta.

In order to prevent him from giving evidence, Charles Taylor had Sam Maskita Bockarie murdered. Foday Sankoh died while he was on trial. Prince Yormie Johnson is now a Liberian politician who came third in that country's just concluded presidential elections. He will also one day face justice.

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