International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Charles Taylor’s Conviction and Sentence Upheld: What next for him?

Appeals Chamber judges of the Special Court for Sierra Leone today upheld Charles Taylor’s conviction that was handed down by the Trial Chamber in April 2012 as well as his 50 year prison sentence. This brings an end to several years of judicial proceedings during which the former Liberian president called himself a peacekeeper who made efforts to end the conflict in Sierra Leone. Taylor also called his trial a conspiracy by western countries, led by the United States and Liberia, to keep him out of Liberia. Today, Appeals Chamber judges said Taylor’s categorization of himself and his trial was wrong.

In a jam-packed public gallery full of diplomats, court officials, civil society, journalists, and victims of the conflict in Sierra Leone, Presiding Judge of the Appeals Chamber, Sierra Leonean Justice George Gelaga-King, told Taylor that while he served as President of Liberia, West African leaders put him in a position of trust to promote peace in Sierra Leone. However, he abused that trust by aiding and abetting the commission of crimes by Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) rebels in Sierra Leone.

Taylor himself, dressed in a dark suit with a yellow and white shirt, sat attentively as Justice King told him that his acts and conduct had substantial effect on the commission of crimes and in enhancing the RUF/AFRC’s capacity to implement its operational strategy. The Appeals Chamber said that the RUF/AFRC operational strategy involved committing crimes against the people of Sierra Leone and putting them in constant fear.

Taylor had raised more than 40 grounds of appeal, arguing before the Appeals Chamber that the Trial Chamber made several mistakes in assessing the evidence against him and that his 50 year jail sentence was “manifestly unreasonable.” He also argued that his fair trial rights were violated and that some aspects of the judicial process were irregular. The Appeals Chamber today disagreed with Taylor, calling his sentence not only fair and reasonable, but also that his allegations of the process being unfair and irregular were “unsupported, ingenious, and ludicrous.” Justice King said that the Trial Chamber had “thoroughly evaluated the evidence according to its credibility,” that they “properly applied the law according to the rules and statute of the Court,” and that Taylor was “fully held liable for his own conduct.”

Before today’s judgment, there was a lot of anxiety among observers about whether the recent decision of the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the case of Momčilo Perišić would have an impact on Taylor’s case. In the Perišić case, the ICTY Appeals Chamber reversed the Trial Chamber’s decision that convicted Perišić for aiding and abetting the commission of serious crimes. The Appeals Chamber in Perišić decided that for a person to be convicted for aiding and abetting, it is not sufficient that his conduct had “substantial impact” on the commission of crimes, but rather, that his conduct was “specifically directed” to the commission of said crimes.

The Trial Chamber in Taylor’s case had also dismissed a “specific direction” requirement and had said it was sufficient that Taylor’s conduct had a “substantial impact” on RUF/AFRC crimes in Sierra Leone. In today’s judgment, the Special Court’s Appeals Chamber judges said they were not persuaded by the ICTY’s finding that “specific direction” is an element of aiding and abetting.

Morris Anyah, who represented Taylor in the appeal process, told journalists at a press briefing after the judgment was announced that Taylor was hopeful that the judges would follow the standard set by the Appeals Chamber at the ICTY. Sadly for him, that was not the case. As said by a member of his defense team, Taylor himself accepted at this point that most of his life will now be spent in jail. As his 50 year jail term was confirmed, his defense team called it a life sentence.

The presiding judge announced that arrangements will now commence to take Taylor to the country where he will serve his 50 year jail term. Britain had originally agreed to provide a prison for him if he is convicted and sentenced. The Prosecutor later told the press that it is for the President of the Court to determine where Taylor will serve such jail sentence. In addition to Britain, the Special Court also has agreements with Sweden, Finland, and Rwanda for imprisonment of persons convicted by the Court. Other persons who have already been convicted and sentenced by the Special Court are serving jail terms in Rwanda. According to Mr. Taylor’s defense counsel, the former Liberian president has a preference to serve his jail term in an African country.

The Prosecutor of the Court, Brenda J. Hollis, welcomed the appeal judgment and said she will now travel to Sierra Leone and Liberia where she will take part in outreach activities to explain the judgment to local populations. This is particularly important to the people of Sierra Leone who have been her clients.

Today’s judgment brings an end to judicial activities in the Taylor case and for the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The Court’s indictment against former AFRC leader Johnny Paul Koroma remains in place. If he is arrested and brought into the custody of the Court, arrangements will be made for his trial.

44 Comments
  1. Many Many thanks Brother Alpha Sesay for your professional approach and abilities to ignore some morons on this site who have continued to attack, and call you names. Brothers such as you will help to free Africa from ignorance and fears of saying or reporting the ‘Truth’. I like your stance and continual focus on your reporting during this trial. I would like to meet you some day.
    Taylor will return to Liberia..’God willing..when prison term ends. You and I will probably not be around, and supporters will be in their 90s to welcome him. In the cause of the people..the struggle continues!

  2. Well, there you have it. I am pretty much sure that President Taylor will go down in History as a man whose heroic and Great Personal Valor in the face of intense international pressure and conspiracy was able to stand in defense of his people and country’s natural resources.

    Good Luck President Taylor as we all look forward to see you in Heaven. God Bless you, America, Liberia, Sierraleone, and the rest of the world.

  3. Folks, the matter is over.
    The saga is ended.
    Case closed.
    Proceedings over.
    Memoirs is awaited.

    Great job to drum majors jfallahmenjor and Jose Rodriguez for their respective passion and gallantry. You and your friends never gave up…you held on tight to your cause. You did a wonderful job…and for close to a year now, if I am right, I followed your postings without making a comment.

    I salute you both and salute your friends as well, but it now time to wake up, dust off, and move on.

    Jose Rodriguez, we had some dialectic tension quiet often in the past. It was heated but meaningful. Your last sentence in your September 26, 2013 posting means a lot from an emotional and spiritual stance. Thank you, my friend, for that last sentence. May God bless us all, my friend.

    Peace.

  4. Good news for Africa! may this coward CT who tried to lied way out of his own doing during this trial return from jail in a body bag and buried in an unmarked grave! Long live the people of the MRU.

  5. The deck was stocked against President Taylor from the day of arrest to incarceration. The trial was a mockery of international justice from start to finish. The core of the trial was political and racist. The word racist was not loosely used. Take for example, the Perisic case, a white man from the former Yugoslavia. It’s fair to argue that the acquittal of Perisic on his appeal is due to his race, considering he and President Taylor were found guilty of aiding and abetting in the trial court.

    Furthermore, the appeal court was headed by a Sierra Leoan national, under no circumstances he would have advocated for a fair trial. It was incumbent unto him by his people and some powerful hands to turn a blind eye to justice.

    It’s over; no man will ever get out of this world alive, so what the heck! President Taylor is a nationalist, he believes all man are born equal and no human being is superior whether if you are white, yellow or brown.

    Africa it’s time we unit. It’s time we become our brother’s keeper, something the white have been doing and continue to do. Let us not slumber nor sleep.

    May God bless President Taylor.

    • Big B;

      As a Westerner, with great interest in the law, I would like to correct a few misconceptions that have been borne out in your post. It is true that Justice King was from Sierra Leone, and therefore might have been affected by the civil war. That in itself does not mean that Charles Taylor would have automatically had his appeal dismissed since, according to the Court’s own processes, Justice King would have been in a minority, as there is only one other judge (Justice Kamanda) from Sierra Leone. the rest of the Bench is as follows:
      Justice Renate Winter (Austria)
      Justice Shireen Avis Fisher (United States of America)
      Justice Emmanuel Ayoola (Nigeria)
      So, if your theory is correct – that Taylor was likely to lose just because of the nationality of his judges – then both Justices King and Kamanda would have to have voted together, and then they would need to have persuaded one of the other justices to join them.

      Also, you state that this was based on racism. Not true. Three of the justices (King, Kamanda and Ayoola) were Black, from Africa. The other two were white from the Western World, so, actually, if anything, there would have been “racism in his favour”, since the majority of the Bench are from Africa, and are Black. If, for argument’s sake, Justice Waki (the alternate, from Kenya) were called upon to replace a sitting judge, things would have been stacked even more in his favour.

      • Ruairi,

        I made two points in my posting why President Taylor made have lost his appeal. Unfortunately, you failed to address neither one of my reasons why President Taylor lost his appeal.

        This is what I said and you can go back and read, read. The first reason is racist. It is about the Perisic appeal. You may or may not be familiar with the Perisic case, go back and visit the Perisic’s appeal and the crime he (Perisic) was guilty of vs. the crime President Taylor was guilty of both in the trial court.

        The second reason President Taylor lost his appeal is political. The chief judge is a Sierra Leone national and pressure from his people and some powerful hands may have caused the judge to turn a blind eye to justice. My reasons President Taylor lost his appeal were never addressed in your reply.

        I hope I cleared any doubt that you may have.

      • Ruairi,

        Please ! Do you really think that any of those Sierra Leone judges could have gone back home and faced their friends and families having acquitted Mr. Taylor? Taylor didn’t stand a chance with the composition of the Judges. You want us to believe that the American judge would have acquitted Mr. Taylor? Ruairi I would like to hear your thoughts about the judges refusing to accept the ICTY ruling on aiding and abetting which if the Special Court had followed Mr. Taylor would be a free man. Remember the court was setup to use the ICTY and the Rawanda Tribunal for guidance.

        The term no one is above the law has never been true. If it did George Bush and Tony Blair would be in prison for crimes committed in Iraq. Barack Obama, Sarcozy, Berlisconi, and Cameron would be in prison for aiding and abetting the rebels in Libya who carried out war crimes.

  6. The bible says,we should give thanks to God almighty for everything.Liberia is good at making history,we knew that this could happened.Thanks to all for the job well done.Mr.Taylor,we hope to see you in heaven.Pray to God and confess all you did wrong to put that you will not go through this in help.

  7. Boy ! over 100 million spent on this court while the amputees have to wake up the next morning to beg in the streets of one of the world’s poorest country. What all of you Charles Taylor haters must remember. He will get three square meals a day, top medical care and live the rest of his life with all expenses paid including travel allowance for his family to visit him.

  8. Well folks, The journey is over for now. We’ve screamed, abused and yelled at each other and now the judges have decided. May God bless the people of Liberia, Sierra Leone and all of Africa. May the day come when we will know the full circumstances by which we are still controlled and manipulated by outsiders.

    Below is an interesting article by a Law professor out of London. Please read as I’m sure the ramifications of this case will affect international justice for a long time.

    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/09/charles-taylor-logic-relative-justice-2013927104711229757.html

  9. J Fallah Menjor and all others who think justice was truly served please read.

    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/09/charles-taylor-logic-relative-justice-2013927104711229757.html

    • Aki, nobody expects taylor support group to agree or accept the final verdict. We know this! However, it really doesn’t matter to some since it was obvious, in this trial, that taylor hands were all over criminal enterprises; in blood diamonds, sam bokari’s murder,attacks on diamond towns in Sierra Leone,tranporting arms through Lofa county to Sierra Leone,forced marriages of peoples daughters to his drugged gangsters, and child soldiers who are totally useless in the streets of Liberia as we speak, and as one of the greatest problems faced by Ellen government. So Aki, I understand where you are coming from; you have no love for liberia, and had blown the trumpet until taylor got put away for some selfish desires, or who knows what. Besides, taylor, himself participated in cannibalism, as christain he claimed to be, not to mention other troubling revelations we have in our possession, Aki. Do me a favor: Do not let us come back here again so we can disgrace taylor any further..Jfallahmenjor is done with all taylor psychotics!you guys need forgiveness and that is what some of us are trying to do..ok aki?

  10. a great day for africa and real sign for all torturers in the whole world.
    may the international community punish ALL criminals all over the world, free from political reasons.
    No one can hide behind office or nation!!

  11. What did we expect, Pres. Taylor’s returning to Liberia? EJS, who turned against him is still in power!

    Anything else beside this, is like predicting Pres. L. Gbagbo’s return to the native Ivorian voters, when ADO/French colonial regime is still in power.

    Gangsters have to protect their gains in Liberia & Mano-River Region. They had to prevent two thing: Justice and change of power that is now in their favor through their puppets. The only best thing about following this trial, which we knew would come to this, is the fact we learned there’s no justice in this world. And there will never be, so long it’s governed by greed and brute.

    Taylor will return, when EJS is made to resign, or see out her term and leave Liberia. Possibly, he may also be back, if we set up a tribunal for Liberian War Crimes. For it is in this case, he will have to answer for himself, and also face those who fought against his democratically elected government and the Liberian people. This will open a lot of nasty stuffs the big fish in the water don’t want us to see. Propaganda and lies are much preferred. It makes for all the reason why they denied him justice (here), and why they’ve refused to let Liberians open a war tribunal.

    The third option on the table is a deal: Taylor is asked to stay completely out of political matters and live a very private life with no influence at all. This option is a complex one. He is very popular and loved in this region to a higher degree. He would attract millions like poop attracts flies at the moment he lands. Above exposing the real criminals if pushed to the war, such fear is what was coined as “Taylor is a danger to the region” by the enemies of the region itself. They have to do anything, including killing or keeping away those who stand for the region. Everything comes down to protecting geopolitical economy interest in West Africa. It’s brainless expecting anything in the form of justice from trials like this. Mockingbird Trial.

    President Charles G. Taylor should probably take comfort in this decision than a useless freedom. It would have taken a true powerful friend to protect him from assassination if they let him walk free. He knows…!

    Just my opinion

    • Tomas, What are you talking about? Who are you calling gangster? Ellen? Or are you refering to charles gangay taylor? Man, it looks like you are not following this case coherently, otherwise you would stop calling others names that appropriately apply to your client; taylor. Go to the World Court with your senseless arguements that make no coherence to average Liberian. sit andf wait for taylor return instead of getting off your behind to be productive in rebuilding Liberia after taylor wreckless activities that have landed his buttucks in prison. Every time you want us to disgrace taylor, come with silly arguement to us Mr. Tomas.

      • Fallah,

        It is a fact that Ellen is a “rebel” and a gangster. She said it herself. Why are you getting mad with people who only regurgitated what this president who is presiding over a joint criminal enterprise of a corrupt and rogue regime? Let me say this to you. President Taylor will rather take comfort in a white man jail cell than to give Liberia natural resources to greedy politicians and power of the world.

        • Could not have said it any better than that, Jose Rodriquez!
          This trial is not a rocket-science. Jesus was guilty for doing the right thing, so was Dr. King, Gandhi, Henry D. Thoreau etc! All the other Africanists who stood for us. All were killed by the same forces, which is why it was easy to know where this mockery was going. Kill or hurt the best, and glorify the worst who serve their interests. Anyone can say what they want, it’s a matter of opinion. We all see the fact, and our children will keep learning just as we have been ourselves.

  12. It seems at least that some in the international community are starting to talk about the double standards associated with Taylor’s conviction as opposed to other Western leaders being above the law. Please read!

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/if-charles-taylor-is-a-war-criminal-then-so-are-obama-bush-and-clinton/5352957

    • Aki,

      I found the site provided by you very peculiar and with fascinating interest. Unforfunately, thats how it is. President Taylor did not receive a fair trial. Thank God that people of common sense saw strict through this fake case and called it out. As I said before, the rules of the court, which by the way, was authored by the same people who wanted to make sure this innocent man never return to his homeland was stacked up against him. Can you imagine evidence such as: they say, she say, third party say, dead man say, uncle nephew girlfriend bestfriend dead playpad say? Can you also imagine in the middle of the defense cross examination they were told that the prosecutors had another witness called Naomi Campbell and therefore, the prosecutors had to take the stand again? Where have you seen that? Only in this court that has declined by design.

    • I agree, Aki, there are many opinions expressed in taylor case from day one. we know this and respect other peoples views, and not only ours. Therefore, it is right and freedom of expression. what we have said all along is that taylor bears full responsibility to what happened to Liberia between 1989 to 2003, annot to mention his meldling into a sovergn nation of Sierra Leone, and leving so much miseries.

  13. What a shame ? May God bless president Taylor.

  14. Gentlemen,
    This idiot calling himself fallah menjor really got big mouth. My friend, you should actually be praying to god for your personal forgiveness. Who are you to speak about somebody’s life improvement.

    • Thanks NOKO5. It’s always a compliment to here an opponent calls you an ‘Idiot’ that tells you he is out logical debate. I settled things with you long time ago, NOKO5. You lost the fight for taylor release, and you lost in the debate on this site, therefore, it is understandable that you are ‘frustrated’ man. you are resulting to ‘streetfight’ that most taylor followers are acustomed to. But my age and intelligence will not allow me to come to your level..NOKO5…the END!

    • Noko5

      Just imagine this kind of statement from Fallah: “taylor bears full responsibility to what happened to Liberia between 1989 to 2003.” This man is confusing the Sierra Leonean crisis to that of Liberia. Clearly this low information individual who is predisposed to vicious attacks on the people of Liberia and at all cost defending the crippling paralysis of leadership in Liberia used the S.LS.C. as a backdoor means to get even with his arch enemy, President Taylor. As we all have said it before, Likes of Fallah and couple of Liberians used the Special Court of Sierra Leone to get even with Taylor. They knew very well that they could not have used the Liberian situation, better yet, they all could be culpable liable for the carnage. Look at the Liberian TRC Report for example. They were all named included this trigger happy war monger and rebel supporter Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who is presidnig over a joint criminal enterprise of a corrupt and rogue regime in Liberia.

      Noko5, long time no see or talk. How can can I meet or talk to you pekin? I lost your contack point. I am still in my old area now, and i will be going back to Liberia to take care of my ailing mom anytime soon . When are you coming on my side pekin?

      • Rodriguze, Spanish Liberian, or maybe ‘wantobe'; you raised few points and and I would like to clarify:How does my charge of full responsibility between 1989 to 2003 be confused with taylor rebellion that began Christmas Eve of 1989? How would taylor exit from Liberia in 2003 be confused with end of rapes and cannibalism in Liberia and a beginning of ‘DAWN’? Taylor was ripe to be taken alive had ULIMO been given chance by Prince johnson forces! You know that Man. Taylor knew, then, that ‘man pass man’ and he caved in to pressures! That is why taylor left! Now, how would jfallahmenjor use the special Court Of Sierra Leone to get even, when this came after all the above and taylor was living in Calaba, surrounded with some of you guys and few crooked Nigerian partners that helped scrap liberia of anything of value? You are the ignorant ones that can not read nor do research to improve your knowledge, but to rely on propoganda aginst Sirleaf’ government!

        • Fallah,

          This is where your confusion derives at. We are talking about S.L. Not Liberia. You abruptly brought Liberia in the picture contrary to what we are discussing. If you decide to talk about Liberia, than lets talk about Liberia and the TRC Report that indicted criminal minded persons like Ellen and the rests.

      • “General fix it”
        One thing I admire of is your acute level of thought. Your analysis are always perpendicular to the facts of this fracas. My brother, one thing these narrow minded educated fools are failing to remember is that, Elen’s corrupt institution,she has in Liberia calling government will not last forever. The same rope that hung monkey will hang baboo. The time is coming… All war lords roaming the streets of Liberia will face justice.

      • General fix it,

        My man! I’m so sorry to know that. I wish you and the old Mom God’s richest blessings. Hope she gets rapid recovery.I have a number for you and have been calling you too. Please send your recent contact to Vdwalu@yahoo.com and I will call you back.

  15. To our Moderators: Mr. Sesay and Others; Could you please update us how quickly things are moving for transport of taylor to start serving his sentence? Once this man is behind bars, we will hear less trash talks! It will be in the best interest of support group too, especially those who got taylor’s accounts in their names, to turn it in their own names and have the last laught at taylor’s stupidity and trust he had put in these Judases! All his hidden treasures will go to others! Also we advice that international Body monitors the transactions and telephone conversations between taylor and associates so we can evedrop where the Liberians money is! This guy is the biggest crook known to modern times! Watch Him !

    • Dear jfallahmenjor,

      The UK Justice Minister has announced that Taylor will be serving his 50 year sentence in Britain. This was announced on the BBC in this story. The Special Court has not made a public statement on the issue yet.

      Regards,
      Taegin

    • WHAT DO KNOW MR TAYLOR

  16. Thanks sir, at least there are plans underway! I don’t want support group to think Britain is afraid to house their man and role model. Besides, we thought there would be riots accross the world, as these lunatics had us believing during the trial of taylor. I remembered telling people that”liberian man is nothing but talks!” All the praise singers will vanish in the near future because it was fear of this monster that terrified them especially believing in their narrow minds, he would return..God willing..!

  17. For those who wonder:

    http://www.sc-sl.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=epnC%2bE%2fICP4%3d&tabid=191

    That is the official order designating the state in which Charles Taylor will be held. The fact that the Order was originally confidential pending his transfer, and now has been declassified, means that he has now been transferred to the United Kingdom (where I live).

    As far as where he is likely to stay:

    Historically, war criminals who have been hosted in British Prisons have normally been kept in one of these three:

    Her Majesty’s Prison Frankland
    Her Majesty’s Prison Long Lartin
    Her Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh

    All of these prisons are maximum-security prisons in the North of England (except Belmarsh, which is outside London).

    If he were a British convict, imprisoned under British law, he would be automatically released after serving 25 years of imprisonment (if he lives that long), since British law provides that a prisoner shall be released at the half-way point in his sentence. However, his sentence is imposed by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. This means that he is to be released after two thirds of his sentence have passed. He would therefore be entitled to be released after serving about 33 years of his sentence (again, if he lives that long).

    We are obliged by law to count the time he has spent in remand when determining the period he has already spent, and how long he has left to spend, in prison – remand means the time he has spent imprisoned during pre-trial, trial and appeal. By my maths, I make it about 7 and a half years. Subtract seven and a half years from the fifty year sentence means that he has 43 years left (rounding the figures to the nearest whole number). He is obliged to serve 33 of those years (see above) before he can be released. In theory, therefore, he would not be eligible for release until 2046, or until he is 101 years old.

    R
    ps. If my arithmetic is wrong, please correct me – maths was never my strong point!

  18. At least more and more there is talk about the double standards applied to Charles Taylor conviction and those of Western leadets walking free with impunity to commit war crimes. Please read Fallah Menjore and others.

    http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13920717000516

    • Aki, i do not need to read or open this link. taylor is is where he belongs. all other talks is baloni;’an american expression, that tells ‘cheap’ talks. your man will know ‘who borns dog!’ your role model killed innocent Sierra leoneans, Liberians, for no apparent reason, but greed, and some of you are still saying he is innocent. what kinds of people are you portraying yourselves to the world? cannibals that this man engaged himself to be? you are better than him; forgive yourselves for supporting him and get on civilized world. I will come hard on any idoit that thinks this is all a “whiteman Plot” that you are ignorant fools who must now be delt with to save ‘Mother africa” and for those african nations that are saying or ploting against ICC, you are going to be next; we will deal with your ignorance one by one! this is a promise! The world is not going to accept your silly cheap arguments that have no merits! grow up Africa! You cannot continue to live in darkness!

  19. people need to know that war between africans just start because we liberian will not forgo anything from other party.africa is at the cross road.this is the one world government, i believe AMERICA IS ENJOYING EVERY BIT OF.

  20. Aki
    I would care less about double stander especially when it comes to your own man. How many of his vicitms were given a trial during his rag tag days in Liberia and sierra Leone? This court was aways generous to this monster; But Great Britain jail is the right pick. With time served at least he will live at this address for the next 4 decades and change! Victory at last.

  21. Ziggy Salis,
    I appreciate your honesty at least you are admitting unlike others that you are not concerned about true justice.

  22. There is time for everything. God bless Mr. Taylor.