Charles Taylor was put on trial in the Hague Court. He was charged with war crimes against humanity for his role as the head-of-state in Liberia. He was found guilty on April 26, 2012., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Tuesday, 22 January 2013 00:00
On April 26, 2012, the Special Court for Sierra Leone (“the Court”) convicted Charles Taylor (“Taylor”), the former President of Liberia, of aiding and abetting and planning war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by several rebel groups operating in Sierra Leone, namely: the Revolutionary United Front (“RUF”), the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (“AFRC”), the AFRC/RUF Junta or alliance, and the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (“NPFL”).
Pursuant to his conviction, Taylor was sentenced to 50 years imprisonment on May 30 last year. However, he was to receive credit for time served in prison from March 29, 2006, to May 30, 2012, thus reducing his sentence to one of 44 years.
Despite Taylor’s protestations that he had been improperly convicted, that the trial was a sham whereby witnesses had been both threatened and paid to incriminate him, that he had been arrested only because the United States Government (“the US Government”) had demanded that he be arrested for the purpose of furthering its own interests in West Africa and ensuring that its puppet Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was not threatened by a possible Taylor return, that his was a classical case of the regime change agenda of the US Government and its ally, the United Kingdom Government (“the UK Government”), no official investigation has to date been made by the multifarious so-called human rights organizations in Africa to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of the serious claims made by Taylor.
This article shall deal with the unlawful and illegal contributions of the US and “UK” Governments and their citizens and surrogates in tailor-making and bringing about the wrongful conviction of Taylor.
Those who engineered his conviction and lengthy sentence falsified evidence, bribed witnesses, bribed the Office of the Prosecutor, leaked sensitive trial information to their handlers at the US Embassy in Freetown ( Sierra Leone), placed their operatives in the Court’s three arms of operation, namely, the Registry, the Office of the Prosecutor and the judges in Trial Chamber II. I shall revert to and unpack these averments later.
Basis of the Vendetta against Taylor
Taylor and the Western imperialists had a fundamental disagreement on the ownership of certain pieces of land in Africa. This fact is succinctly put by Stephen Ellis in his “Report for the Special Court for Sierra Leone: Charles Taylor and the War in Sierra Leone” (2006) where he states that:
“According to a Liberian political activist who associated with him in Ghana, Charles Taylor expressed an ambition not only to overturn the government of President Doe, but also to reclaim territories, such as in the South-West of Cote d’Ivoire, that had been claimed by the Liberian state in the nineteenth century but that had subsequently been incorporated into the colonies of the European Powers, becoming lost to Liberia.”
The importance of land to the Western imperialists and their determination to do everything in their power over it can best be understood in the case of the Zimbabwean land reform that equitably redistributed land by taking some of the land away from whites in order to resettle blacks.
This resulted in President Mugabe, previously a darling of the West because of his magnanimity and statesmanship, being demonised and branded a dictator.
Concomitantly, an illegal economic war was launched and waged relentlessly against Zimbabwe by way of the imposition of illegal sanctions against it in order to destabilise the country and enforce regime change.
Taylor was also perceived to be a stumbling block to US and UK imperial interests in the diamonds of Liberia and Sierra Leone as he was perceived to be the mastermind of Sierra Leonean rebels who disrupted their mining interests in the country. To them Taylor was benefitting from the diamonds in both Liberia and Sierra Leone and it was unacceptable for an African to enjoy the wealth of Africa.
Evidence of this gripe with Taylor is revealed by Lester A. Hyman, a lawyer and an influential figure in the US Democratic Party, who represented the US in Liberia. He wrote:
“Despite his (Charles Taylor) protestations to the contrary, evidence suggests that President Taylor took diamonds smuggled out of Sierra Leone by the RUF, sold these diamonds on the international market, and used a portion of the proceeds to purchase weapons, which he then supplied to the RUF.”
The imperialists were so greedy for the diamonds of Sierra Leone that they caused the Security Council to commission an investigation about these diamonds on the pretext that they fuelled the war. Evidence on the war clearly indicates that from 1991 – 1995, the issue of diamonds was not at all a strategic issue to the rebels. According to the “Report of the Panel of Experts on Sierra Leone Diamonds and Arms appointed pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1306 (2006)”
“. . . a high proportion of Sierra Leone’s diamonds are gemstones of very high quality and value, and are the most sought after.” p16 A leaked US cable from Wiki leaks dated 10 March 2009, made it clear that the U.S. Government wanted to keep Taylor out of Liberia at all costs. In this cable the United States’ Ambassador to Liberia, Linda Thomas-Greenfields, stated that:
“. . . the best we can do for Liberia is to see to it that Taylor is put away for a long time and we cannot delay for the results of the present trial to consider next steps.
“All legal steps should be studied to ensure that Taylor cannot return to destabilise Liberia. Building a case in the United States against Taylor for financial crimes such as wire fraud would possibly be the best route.
“There may be other options, such as applying the new law criminalising child soldiers or terrorism statutes.”
Clearly, the Taylor trial was a case of seeking for a crime to convict Taylor for rather than seeking the truth of whether Taylor was guilty of any crime or not.
Even if the US had failed in its corrupt machinations that ensured his conviction and lengthy sentence he would still have been whisked away to the US where he would have been tried by a biased US Court as has happened to many foreign nationals.
That is the essence of Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfields remarks quoted above.
Flooding Office of Prosecutor with Americans
The US Government dispatched its top spies, and military and defence experts to the Court to ensure that Taylor was convicted at all costs. These persons occupied positions of strategic importance in the Court set up. This caused the Court to be compromised, leading to the loss of its independence and impartiality.
Lt-Col David M. Crane, was ex-US Defence Intelligence chief who had worked in the US Defence Department for 30 years. He was dispatched by the US to the Court as its first Prosecutor. On 8 February 2006, he appeared before the US House of Representatives and made remarks which provide clear and incontrovertible evidence that the US Government intended to convict Taylor through the auspices of the Court in order to keep him out of Liberia, using whatever monetary and political pressure that was necessary. He states:
“I posit that five years from now when the international community is challenged by other crises, Taylor, in Calabar, under the protection of Nigeria, will make his move. We will wake up one morning and watch on CNN as Taylor rides triumphantly down the main street in Monrovia to the Executive Mansion, daring all of us to come and get him. Unless he is handed over to the Special Court for Sierra Leone, this scenario is not out of the real of possibility . . .”
He the asked: “How do we assure Liberia’s future? Ultimately, what we do about Taylor in the next several weeks will determine the fate of Liberia and the new administration of its president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.”
Crane then answers the question himself:
“First, hand Charles Taylor to the Special Court of Sierra Leone for a fair trial (tongue in cheek). This takes him out of the local and regional dynamic that is West Africa . . . Second, tie any financial and political support to good governance in Liberia.”
Clearly, the trial of Taylor had nothing to do with atrocities that he committed in Sierra Leone but with U.S. imperial interests. Crane then went on to unlawfully unseal a copy of Taylor’s indictment two months before it was officially unsealed on June 4, 2003, to his handlers, senior US Government officials , at a breakfast in the US embassy in Freetown (Sierra Leone), among whom were the US Assistant Secretary of State and the US Ambassador to Sierra Leone.
That an indictment of a head of state could be casually unsealed at a breakfast being enjoyed by U.S officials lends testimony to the fact that Taylor’s fate was decided, not in the court rooms at the Hague, but at lavish breakfasts of egg, ham and tomato, such as this one. Crane was later to reveal that the unsealing was based on reasons other than those of justice when he stated that:
“The unsealing of the indictment against Charles Taylor on the day he arrived in Accra, Ghana, for peace talks in June 2003 was a calculated move on my part to publicly strip, in front of the world, this warlord of his power by my signature on the indictment . . . My intent was to humble and humiliate him before his peers . . .”
As if this were not enough Crane also revealed that during his term as Prosecutor he had developed an “information asset system” and unlawfully passed confidential and sensitive Court information gleaned through that system to the US Liberian and Sierra Leonean Government, among others.
In other words he was employed as a spy for the US in the Prosecutor’s office. He also revealed that the US Government was the Court’s biggest financial contributor.
Most astoundingly, Crane revealed that the U.S. Government had given undisclosed sums of money directly to the Office of the Prosecutor, in addition to, and separate from, its contributions to the Court as a whole.
This amounted to daylight corruption and bribery of the Prosecution. As will be seen later some of these monies were later used to bribe prosecution witnesses and to buy their testimonies.
Witnesses would literally change their prior written statements for new incriminating ones under the tutelage of the Prosecution team.
In the next article I shall deal with the rest of this U.S. crack attack as well as the composition of judges that was meant to ensure that Taylor would never stand a chance.
Trust Sengwayo is an expert in International Humanitarian Law and a lecturer at the Midlands State University.