Taylor verdict delivers 'powerful message'

2012-04-27 08:07

Washington - The conviction of Liberian ex-president Charles Taylor on Thursday sends a "powerful message" to all war criminals, the United States said, hailing the "enormous" historical milestone.

Taylor is expected to be jailed in Britain after he is sentenced on 30 May, ending five years of hearings at the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone.

"The conviction of Mr Taylor for war crimes and crimes against humanity during Sierra Leone's civil war in the 1990s sends a powerful message about accountability," White House spokesperson Jay Carney said in a statement, adding that the United States "applauds" the verdict.

"While there is no way fully to redress the suffering and loss of those who were killed, tortured, raped and enslaved in the service of Taylor's criminal schemes, we are hopeful that today's ruling will help to dissuade others who might follow in his footsteps."

US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland noted that the trial carried "enormous historical and legal significance" as it was "the first of a powerful head of state to be brought to judgment before an international tribunal on charges of mass atrocities and serious violations of international humanitarian law".

She said the successful completion of the Special Court for Sierra Leone's work "remains a top US government priority".

Blood diamonds

The court convicted Taylor, aged 64, of helping rebels in Liberia's neighbour Sierra Leone to wage a campaign of terror against the mineral-rich country's people during a decade-long civil war that killed 120 000.

Taylor was paid in so-called 'blood diamonds', illegally mined by Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels, who were known for murdering and raping civilians and chopping off limbs with machetes.

"Today's ruling also marks an important landmark for the people of Sierra Leone and neighbouring Liberia," Carney said.

"By helping to assign responsibility for Taylor's dark chapter in history where it belongs, the Special Court has only strengthened the foundation on which this forward-looking work can proceed."

The United States has been a strong supporter of post-war Liberia - founded by freed US slaves - with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton developing a close relationship with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first elected female head of state.

While supporting the Special Court, the United States is not a participant in the permanent International Criminal Court.

Former president George W Bush opposed the permanent court in The Hague, fearing it would unfairly target Americans, but President Barack Obama has backed working ties with it.

  • AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-04-27 08:23

    Don't think Mugabe and assad slept well last nite !!!

      goyougoodthing - 2012-04-27 10:13

      Excellent, Bush and Blair need to be added to the list of criminals. Mugabe too, King Mswati, most of Southern Africa....

      goyougoodthing - 2012-04-27 10:13

      Not to mention every leader of Israel.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-04-27 12:48

      Thami, You might live in this fantasy world of dictators and tyrants, but you don't speak on behalf of by far the majority of Zimbabweans. Watch Zimbabwe, when this thug kicks the bucket, there will be jubilations, dancing and singing of joy, all over Zim,even by the ones, who now fill his stadiums, to get a free snack !!!

  • Luyolo - 2012-04-27 08:23

    Great Its just a pity that the US war criminals cannot be sent to the ICC.

  • Sibusiso - 2012-04-27 08:31

    Good news, I hope Bush and his cronies are next and obama too, the soldier that killed Afghanistan kids killed them under Obama's leadership, mugabe, assad, mswati, sarkozy, cameron. And all the nato presidents for killing civilians in Libya

      Kenny - 2012-04-27 09:11

      Sibusiso!! I agree with you, but do not be one sided now! Look at our own president and own government and own counrty, rather worry about us than some greedy idiots abroad!!

      goyougoodthing - 2012-04-27 10:14


      Gestoffle - 2012-04-27 10:40

      @Sibusiso - you forgot Zuma, Mbeki & the rest of the ANC for genocide charges too. (sorry just echoing kenny)

  • Yusuf Joe Ismail - 2012-04-27 08:36

    good to hear! now just for them to be more serious and send an even stronger message to the public by taking the Israeli and American war Lords to the court (as if that will ever happen)!

      Kenny - 2012-04-27 09:16

      Yusuf! Wake up and smell the coffee, both sides are wrong, Is it because the middle east is minority of the world?

      goyougoodthing - 2012-04-27 10:15

      So right Yusuf, but you will be called anti-semitic, it's the Zionist version of racist.

  • Paul - 2012-04-27 09:57

    Why don't they try George W Bush and Tony Blair next for engaging in a illegal war... Why the hypocrasy?

      Jacqui - 2012-04-27 13:10

      America do not recognize the International Court of Justice.

      Awniea - 2012-04-27 23:50

      Yup Jacqui, here is an excerpt"The U.S. opposed the ICC from the beginning, surprising and disappointing many people. Human rights organizations and social justice groups around the world, and from within the US, were very critical of the U.S. stance given its dominance in world affairs. The U.S. did eventually signed up to the ICC just before the December 2000 deadline to ensure that it would be a State Party that could participate in decision-making about how the Court works. However, By May 2002, the Bush Administration “unsigned” the Rome Satute. The U.S. threatened to use military force if U.S. nationals were held at the Hague The U.S. continues to pressure many countries to sign agreements not to surrender U.S. citizens to the ICC. The complete story is here:

  • Koos - 2012-04-27 10:29

    Now he will get fat in jail. What is the use of that? Public hanging would have being a far better sentence.

  • Jacqui - 2012-04-27 13:07

    It took five years to get this far. At that rate all these suspects will be dead and buried before the court comes to a descision. Imagine what this all cost.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-04-27 13:32

      Lots of money! Although the accused are kept in "prison" , they stay in hotel like accomodation !!! 5 years !!!!!!

      Yar - 2012-04-27 13:33

      Dead and buried is good for them.

  • Chabi - 2012-04-27 14:21

    Now it is time for Bush & Obama... these US Marines urinating of Dead Afghan civilians + maiming & killings... just to test our consistency of this Court.

  • Piet - 2012-04-27 17:46

    Let's not forget - Taylor is the man who was embraced by Mandela.....

  • Sterling - 2012-04-27 21:48

    In case all of you don't know what Taylor did, he armed some children as you as eight years old and had them to rub the sap of a tree to make the bullets bounce off them so, he told them. These children went on a killing spree killing people and chopping off their limbs. Many of these young people will never have a normal life. while all of this was going on, Taylor was stealing diamonds and selling them on the black market.

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