“We Want to See It Happens for Taylor to Be Back After Serving 5 of 50-Year Sentence”, Liberians Question Paye’s Prediction

Detained former Liberian leader, Charles G. Taylor in UK Cell for ‘Crimes against humanity’

Following his pronouncement on a local radio station, the Okay FM early this week, the spokesman of the detained Liberian former President, Charles Taylor that he (Mr. Taylor), Mr. Isaiah Kamara Paye predicted that at the end of the 2017, his boss, Mr. Charles Taylor who serving a 50-year sentence in the UK for war crimes and crimes against humanity will be back in Liberia.

Mr. Paye who sounded optimistic on air said, “President Taylor will return to this country this year by the grace of God. I want you to keep this recording; this recording will be played for the people of Liberia to know what God is about to do in this nation,” Paye affirmatively told a local radio station at the amazement of many who glued to their radios to listen.

“This will be one of the miraculous acts that God will use to show to the people of this nation that Charles Taylor has been chosen by him,” the Taylor family spokesman speaking further on the release of his boss noted with dignity on air.

“President Taylor will return to this country this year by the grace of God. I want you to keep this recording; this recording will be played for the people of Liberia to know what God is about to do in this nation. Paye who sounded quite religious said no amount of advocacies can free Taylor from jail, but the grace of God will set him free by the end of 2017.”

But in reaction to Mr. Paye’s statement on a local radio station, some Liberians who spoke to the GNN-Liberia during a sampling interviews today, Wednesday, March 22, 2017, question Mr. Paye’s statement, noting that It is impossible for this to happen, especially when Mr. Taylor’s 50-year sentence has not ended, stressing, “Even though nothing is impossible for God.”

Speaking to the GNN-Liberia today, a resident of central Monrovia, Aaron Jaye Dennis contrary to Paye’s prediction said, “This guy is doing this to draw public sentiments, and to prove to the Taylor’s family that he is working in their interest. You know and I know it is indeed impossible for such to happen after convicting him of several charges against him for crimes he allegedly committed against humanity.”

“Nothing is impossible for God, when God call for his (Taylor) release today, nothing can stop it, God’s time is the best; the appropriate time for Charles Taylor’s release will come one day. No prediction works without the intervention of God,” an elderly lady, mother Annie Johnson, perhaps in her late 80s speaking to our reporter assured.

Several others, mainly young people who spoke to our staff expressed confidence of Mr. Taylor’s release but rejected that it won’t be as early as predicted by the spokesman of the Taylor family, “Mr. Taylor has not serve his 50-year term, he has only served five years in prison, what is this guy reliance?” Nathaniel Baryogar speaking to our reporter asked.

Charles G. Taylor, the former president of Liberia and a once-powerful warlord, was sentenced in 2012 to 50 years in prison for his role in atrocities committed in Sierra Leone during its civil war in the 1990s.

 

In what was viewed as a watershed case for modern human rights law, Mr. Taylor was the first former head of state convicted by an international tribunal since the Nuremberg trials in Germany after World War II.

Mr. Taylor was found guilty of “aiding and abetting, as well as planning, some of the most heinous and brutal crimes recorded in human history,” said Richard Lussick, the judge who presided over the sentencing here in an international criminal court near The Hague. He said the lengthy prison term underscored Mr. Taylor’s position as a government’s leader during the time the crimes were committed.

“Leadership must be carried out by example, by the prosecution of crimes, not the commission of crimes,” the judge said in a statement read before the court.

If carried out, the sentence is likely to mean that Mr. Taylor, 64, will spend the rest of his life in prison. He looked at the floor after he was asked to stand as the sentence was read.

The chief prosecutor, Brenda Hollis, told a news conference after the sentence, “The sentence today does not replace amputated limbs; it does not bring back those who were murdered,” she said. “It does not heal the wounds of those who were raped or forced to become sexual slaves.”

The prosecution, which had sought an even longer sentence of 80 years, said it was considering its own appeal, to raise the level of responsibility attributed to Mr. Taylor for crimes committed under his leadership.

Two rebel commanders tried earlier were handed similar prison sentences of 50 and 52 years, and a prosecutor said Mr. Taylor’s overall responsibility for the atrocities was considerably greater. He did not freely leave office, but was pushed out in 2003 as rebels marched on his capital and a delegation of African leaders urged him to prevent further bloodshed and seek exile in Nigeria.

The court must set a precise prison term; it is not allowed to impose a life sentence or the death penalty.

Outside the courthouse, Salamba Silla, who works with victims’ groups in Sierra Leone, pleaded for more help for former child soldiers, orphans, people whose limbs were hacked off and other victims of the country’s war. “You can see hundreds of them begging on the streets of Freetown,” the capital, she said. “Many who suffered horrendously need help to return to the provinces, they think they cannot survive there.”

Ibrahim Sorie, a lawmaker from Sierra Leone who had been seated in the court’s gallery, said the sentence was fair. “It restores our faith in the rule of law, and we see that impunity is ending for top people,” Mr. Sorie said.

By previous agreement, Mr. Taylor is serving his sentence in a British prison, but since the appeals process is expected to last at least a year, he will remain in the relative comfort of the United Nations’ detention center at The Hague.

After more than a year of deliberations, the Special Court for Sierra Leone found Mr. Taylor guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes for his part in fomenting widespread brutality that included murder, rape, the use of child soldiers, the mutilation of thousands of civilians and the mining of diamonds to pay for guns and ammunition. Prosecutors have said that Mr. Taylor was motivated in these gruesome actions not by any ideology but rather by “pure avarice” and a thirst for power.

The United Nations-backed tribunal began it work in Sierra Leone, where it tried its other cases, but out of concern that hearings in West Africa would cause unrest among those who still support Mr. Taylor, his trial was moved to the Netherlands.

In Liberia, where Mr. Taylor began a civil war and amassed a record of human rights atrocities during his dictatorial rule, there has not been the political will or the resources to set up a tribunal. The mandate of the Special Court for Sierra Leone covers only crimes between 1996 and 2002, and because the tribunal is to be shut down, critics say that a number of people close to Mr. Taylor have escaped prosecution.

Witnesses who testified at the Taylor trial — which lasted more than twice as long as planned — included men whose hands had been chopped off and women who had been raped. Associates and aides of Mr. Taylor also testified. One aide described a secret bonding ritual in Liberia during which he and others joined Mr. Taylor in eating a human heart.

Diamonds, as well as atrocities, also came up repeatedly in the 2,500-page judgment. The judges agreed with the prosecution that diamonds mined in Sierra Leone were used to pay for arms and ammunition for Mr. Taylor’s proxy army, and that rough diamonds were delivered to Mr. Taylor’s house in Monrovia, the Liberian capital.

One diamond story that received a lot of attention during the trial involved the court appearance of the model Naomi Campbell. Prosecutors said Ms. Campbell had been sent uncut diamonds as a gift from Mr. Taylor after they attended a charity dinner hosted by Nelson Mandela when he was the president of South Africa.

Two of Ms. Campbell’s companions who recounted the episode in court — her agent, Carole White, and the actress Mia Farrow — were repeatedly called “liars” during cross-examination by the defense.

But the judges wrote that the two women were “frank and truthful witnesses,” and contrasted them with Ms. Campbell. They called her a “reluctant witness” who “deliberately omitted certain details out of fear.” They added that Ms. Campbell “said she came to the realization that the diamonds were sent by Taylor.”

Eight other leading members of different forces and rebel groups have already been sentenced by the tribunal. Mr. Taylor is the special court’s last defendant. Since his trial began, 115 witnesses have testified.

The three-panel bench, made up of judges from Uganda, Samoa and Ireland, gave Mr. Taylor leeway during his defense. He spent seven months — covering 81 days of the trial — in the witness chair, telling his life story without ever being cut off for digressions or political statements. He said he had heard about atrocities — “that nobody on this planet would not have heard about the atrocities in Sierra Leone” — but that he would “never, ever” have permitted them.

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About Cholo Brooks 13149 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.