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03.04.2007 General News

Charles Taylor’s son wants Kufuor to stop his father’s trial

By myjoyonline

Tom Charles Taylor, son of former Liberian ¬leader Charles Granky Taylor, has appealed to President John Agyekum Kufuor, to use his good office as African Union Chairman to intervene in the on-going trial of the former Liberian leader.

Tom Taylor who made this call in Accra, expressed optimism that this would not be his father's last hour in incarceration. He claimed Charles Taylor was innocent of the charges of war crimes for which he is presently standing trial.

Pledging to intensify his campaign to actualize the release of his father, Tom recalled the Former UN boss Kofi Annan in welcoming Taylor's transfer to The Hagues, Netherlands, last year that the trial would "mark a further victory in the struggle to end impunity." He however felt strongly that the time had come for Annan to have a rethink in the face of the inability of his adversaries to substantiate allegations. "My father is a victim of high level politicking," he said.

Tom Charles Taylor, who was in charge of diamond mining in Liberia during his father's regime was recently questioned by his country's authorities for looting over $500 million under what observers see as part of the Liberian government's effort. to rid the nation of corruption and recover ill-gotten wealth.

He has since been cleared of all allegations.

Charles Taylor was President of Liberia from 1997-2003. He is accused of wreaking havoc on his own country as well as causing civil wars in at least two others. He was recently sought asylum in 2003 after pressure from Liberian rebel forces and the international community forced his resignation from office.

Taylor is now standing trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, a U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal. In 1989, Taylor launched a rebel attack from neighbouring Cote d'Ivoire, throwing the country into civil war. For six long years, several different rebel groups vied for control of the country and its natural resources. In 1995, a peace agreement was reached, and in 1997, Taylor was elected president with nearly three quarters of the vote.

He developed close relationship with Foday Sankoh, the head of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a Sierra Leonean rebel group while both men were in Libya learning guerrilla tactics from Muammar Qaddafi. Taylor allegedly gave the RUF guns and other military equipment in exchange for diamonds, helping to fuel the RUFfs activities and the suffering it wrought on the civilian population.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone would later indict him for his role in the conflict. In 1999 and in 2003, two separate groups merged to challenge Taylor's rule and by summer of 2003, he was in control of less than one third of the country. In an effort to avoid further escalation of the conflict and a complete collapse of Liberia, the United States publicly called on Taylor to resign which he did in August and was granted refuge in Nigeria.

In the same year, the Special Court in Sierra Leone called for a Taylor trial for war crimes. Nigeria refused to hand over Taylor, stating it would only extradite him to Liberia. In 2005, Liberians elected Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as President, paving the way for Taylor's extradition. In March of 2006, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo finally agreed to hand Taylor over to Liberia, where he was promptly sent to Freetown to stand trial at the Special Court.

Taylor has maintained that he is innocent saying Jesus Christ was accused of being a murderer in his time.

Culled from Network Herald

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