After dismissing the case against him as “lies” and “misinformation,” former Liberian President Charles Taylor implied the CIA freed him from a United States prison in 1985 only days before a coup it had armed and backed failed to overthrow the then Liberian government.
Though speculation about United States involvement in Taylor’s jailbreak has abounded for more than two decades, this was the first time Taylor publicly gave his version of events. He offered no proof of his claim beyond a description of events in 1985, and the Central Intelligence Agency – the US’ premier spy agency — denied Taylor’s claims in international media reports this week.
On Wednesday, Taylor told the Special Court about the night of his escape from US prison. With his prison cell unlocked by a US prison guard late one night in November 1985, Taylor walked out of the maximum security area of the Plymouth County Correctional Facility in Massachusetts, Taylor said. He was escorted by the same guard to the minimum security area. Tying a sheet to a window, Taylor climbed out the window and over the prison fence, where a car containing two men was waiting to whisk him to New York, he said.
Taylor told the court that he believed the guard who set him free “had to be operating with someone else.” Taylor also said he assumed that the car that took him to New York “had to be a [US] government car” because the men driving him feared he may be “picked up” if Taylor changed cars to be with his then wife, who had driven to meet the escape car with money to get Taylor out of the country.
Taylor was in US custody in 1985 pending a US government decision on an extradition request by the Liberian government on charges of embezzlement.
Taylor’s escape took place only days before his friend and Liberian military leader, Thomas Quiwonkpa, staged an unsuccessful coup against the Liberian government of President Samuel Doe in November 1985. Taylor alleged that the CIA was arming and planning with Quiwonkpa to overthrow the Doe government in the months leading up to the coup attempt.
Taylor told the court that he was “one hundred percent positive” that the weapons Quiwonkpa was using “were paid for by the CIA.”
This revelation came amid a week of dramatic testimony as Taylor took the stand as the first witness in his own defense on Tuesday. His lawyer, Courtenay Griffiths, opened his examination of Taylor with a question: what did Taylor have to say about an indictment which labelled him as “everything from a terrorist to a rapist”?
Taylor dismissed the prosecution case against him as full of “disinformation, misinformation, lies and rumors.” Taylor said the charges against him — 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Sierra Leone after November 1996 — were “quite incredible, very unfortunate.” Taylor said he has fought all his life to pursue justice and that the prosecution’s characterization of him was “completely false.”
Courtenay Griffiths, Taylor’s lawyer, was as much of a central character in this week’s events as Taylor. Griffiths – a compelling and charismatic advocate who quoted Bob Marley in his opening statement, winked at the public gallery in rare moments of levity, and showed onlookers a sign stating “Charles Taylor is innocent” one day before court started — set out the defense case on Monday to a gallery packed with media, diplomats and civil society.
Griffiths cast Taylor as a peacemaker, not a war monger, in the Sierra Leone conflict. Taylor, he said, had become a scapegoat of his West African peers who had pleaded with him to exert leadership in the Committee of Five – a group set up by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to bring peace to Sierra Leone.
It was the Special Court’s then prosecutor, David Crane, that had “scuppered peace” by unsealing the indictment against Taylor as he attended peace talks in Ghana in 2003, Griffiths told the court. He said Crane later described this move as an effort to “publicly strip this warlord of his power.” Griffiths pondered “such ego and hubris” before quoting a Bob Marley lyric: Crane, he said, was “working iniquity to achieve vanity.”
The central question of the case, Griffiths went on to tell the court, was whether the prosecution could show that Taylor was responsible for the alleged crimes. As Liberian President, not only was Taylor fully occupied with attacks on his own country which would not allow him to “micromanage” a conflict in a neighboring country, but as a West African leader and member of ECOWAS, he was “placed on the frontline” to bring peace to Sierra Leone, Griffiths said.
As testimony continued during the week, Taylor described the period leading up to the Sierra Leone war, including military training for 168 NPFL troops in Libya between 1987 and 1989 and Taylor’s own efforts to launch a “revolution” in Liberia starting on December 24, 1989 and with the civil war that ensued ending in 1995.
Throughout Taylor’s testimony, Griffiths elicited from Taylor information about his efforts to discipline troops found to have terrorized the Liberian civilian population through rapes, beatings, and executions; Tayor’s efforts to adhere to the laws of war in the Liberian “revolution”; and Taylor’s use of children to help military efforts through cooking, carrying rifles and searching vehicles, but not as combatants.
During the week, the judges agreed to the defense request not to sit on Fridays as Taylor gives his evidence. Taylor will return to the stand on Monday.
Im an American and I have lived in the region for years. Based on many of the people I spoke with say it wasnt Taylor. I even was in Freetown when he was being held at special court. He is exposing the thruth about secrets. The People of Sierra leone needed a drastic change and the reasons they started drastically changed as time went on. When the rebels took over they were Sierra leones Sons bringing a great change, as time went on it turned to nothing but hatred for fellow countrymen. “If Na Fambul” If he is the only one on trail he is a Capgoat. Former rebel account for British Military choppers dropping in Bomb experts to clear an area formerly laden with land mine. So they may have more slave miners “dig diamond”. Even majority Sierra Leoneans say Taylor is not responsible and innocent of these charges. I been there believe ME. k
The fact that you claim to have been to Sierra Leone does not make us gullible to the rubbish you just regurgitated here.
I am one of the 6 million Sierra leoneans who believe Taylor had hands in the Diamond trade which was the motivation of all the RUF and AFRC soldiers that worked under Taylor’s command. Ever heard of the name Mosquito ? Now do not go looking into a tropical medicine dictionary . (I do not mean an insect here!!!) If you have’t heard that name prior to my mentioning it, then you would save yourself further embarassement by doing some research on the war before posting up here again. We want constructive arguments from better educated people and people who see Charles Taylor the way he is .A liar and a war Lord. Who cares if he is tried for the war in Mogadishu ?
I should quote your “If na fambul” or ” Dig daimond” to remind you that these words or phrases are not specific to the Sierra Leonean war period. If you go to Peckham in London or west Virginia or Marland ,you’ll hear these words. You do not have to have been to Sa lone inorder to have heard them. You probably heard at Waterside in Monrovia.
Your haven been to Freetown is indeed admirable but does not in any shape or form translate into your knowing the facts on atrocities committed in Koidu, kenema Sumbuya or Gerihun. These are the diamond mining areas ,should you need further instruction. Your being an American and having stayed in the west Afican region for years is quite amazing. When did you shed your refugee status in the U.S ? Unless by some hook or by possession of an IQ less than 70. You do not by any means sound American. Not even if you hailed from the Southside of Chicago where “aint cool to school”.
Please Give Mr. Taylor a Free and Transparent trial.
PLEASE BE INFORMED, THAT WHAT YOU DID YESTERDAY FOLLOWS TODAY!
BE READY TO PAY FOR LIBERIAN PEOPLE’S BLOOD THAT YOU SHARED WITHOUT A CAUSE.
One good turn deserves another, the evil that a man does live after him. Your past will surely hunt you down no matter what a super human lawyer you may hire. Wish you and your super human lawyer Griffths the best of hell in this trail.
Remember that war is war. no one wishes for it,but when it comes we just have to accept it. I don’t think that profile like Mr. Charles Taylor should be held responsible for blood shared, child conscripting and so on. During war all this have to happen. so, please give Mr. Taylor a clear and clean trial.
i am very frustrated to hear some libeians takin decisions in their own ways. charlie did not carry war in sierra leone as claimed by some of you who want to see our former president to spend his days in jail.
charlie will be freeeeee in Jesus name and shame will grab you and your so-whites
Bravo Charlie boy prove your innocence.
Taylor are think is time tp prove yourself inocent in a court of law that you advocated for long time ago. Please tell us truth of your source of funding to bring war in Liberia. And Liberians remember that it will not be taylor that that will pay for reperation to Serria Leone by Liberia.
It’s sad that most comments and commentators, Liberian and None Liberians are confusing Taylor’s trial for crimes in Sierra Leone with crimes he commited in Liberia! Please wait for the time those charges will be brought if he wins present charges against the people of Sierra Leone! It is understandable that most of those who are advocating for Taylor’s innocence are either people who directly or indirectly participated in the meham and fear their shadows, or the are just insensitive to the facts and sufferings of those who lost love ones due to this man’s greeed for power and wealth! For those who are saying these things, don’t forget there are some who are taking notes as to why you are such advocates beside the freedom of expression you enjoy! There is a saying that”facts come through jokes”…Souls of those who parished due to this Monster will continue to hunt you all!
J. Fallah Menjor,
Oh! I am really scared now!
Dear Special Court,
If Mr. Taylor is brought down guilty, this is indication that you can also indict President Sirleaf. Taylor has excused her of sponsoring the war
Roland B. Doe
Dear Fallah Menjor,
This is not the place to threaten people. Everybody has to give their view, maybe you should tell exactly why you hate Taylor so much. He was our president and it is so naive of you to say that he is the cause of the war crimes that when on in Sierra Leone. Lets assume that Taylor did give them lots of guns to kill one another as it is being painted that way and those people had arms to kill who ever they wanted to kill why did they go ahead chopping the people limbs off? Or was it Charles Taylor that gave them the Machete too?
Mr. Solomon King,
This is neither a threat nor intimidation. I stated my point clearly and if for some reasons some feel threatened then it may be that my first premise has merits that ex-fighters for Taylor are most likly advocates than those who never participated…are you one of them? If not, then you should stop calling people who simply want justice served as haters of Taylor. We want justice for those who never had the chance to live! That’s all.
The debates on this site are lively and passionate, which is just what we want to see.
Just a reminder to all that while comments are both welcome and encouraged, as moderators of the site, we would also request that comments be both constructive and civil. We also reserve the right not to post comments which do not fall within the terms and conditions of the site (see the link at the bottom of the page to read them).
What goes around comes around.The current president of liberia miss.Ellen j. Sirleaf should be trail with Taylor. She said Taylor should level the country and they will rebuild it in 6months Shame for her to serve as president of liberia. heartless mother, the liberian people blood is on your hand. That is why you underminded the late Doe administration. CAN ONE MAN STAGE A WAR?
I wish Charles Taylor is try for war crimes comitted in Liberia instead of Sierra Leone because we sierra leoneans are responsible for all the atrocities comitted in our country. The money use to try Taylor should be used to take care of war affected victims instead of spending it on western personnels who are paid huge junk of money in a protracted trial. Let’s put greed and thirst of power behind us as sierra leoneans and try to explore ways of developing our country inorder to create provision for those who suffered as a result of the war to live a meaningful life.
J.Fallah Menjor is a coward and the type of Africans that sold their brothers into slavery due to greed and lack of innovation for self development. Sierra Leoneans murdered themselves period and that fact cannot be disputed. This whole Taylor trial is a divide and rule game by the powerful people to keep us suffering. These actions that are being taken are not sanction by ordinary people of Europe and America for we know very well that the people of these powerful nations were aware of the facts, they would soon oppose their own government actions toward Taylor.
It is clearly indicated on this site that we be civil in our dialogue at all time. However, it is understandable too for a brother like you who is struggling to express Himself in the White Man’ language, to avoid being un-civil!
I am not a coward for saying Africans should stop blaming the West for their own Leadership failures. You are one example of those ignorant African Brothers that seem to have nothing concrite to offer, nor an open mind to analyze ideas before putting them foward.
How dear you say Taylor’s trial is a means for the Powerful(WEST) to divide us? That simply means you neither have the concept of the entire reason behind this trial, or you are simply too naive to admit.
Thank you Gray King for enjoying this reply through the West Medium of Communication that you hate so much for bringing misery to your peaceful village life!
As for me, I want to see Africa and literate Africans adopt the Democratic Ways of the West. Maybe such individuals will then properly be justified in calling people who propagate such ideas as cowards , and of selling their people into slavery. Please organize your thoughts before replying me or else you will never hear from me again even if you put rubbish out there for me to respond to..so long King Gray!
LET NOT BASE OUR JUDGEMENT ON HERE SAY BUT LET BE THE REALITY. TAYLOR IS HELD TODAY FOR THINGS HE DID AND DIDN’T DONE WHILE OTHER SIT BACK AND LIED. LET HIM HAVE A FAIR AND FREE TRIAL TO DETERMINE HIS INVOLVEMENT AND SO BE THE OTHERS INVOLVED IN THE DAMAGED.
TAYLOR ISN’T ON TRIAL FOR LIBERIA BUT SIERRA LEONE. BASE YOUR JUDGEMENT ON HIS INVOLVEMENT IN SIERRA LEONE WAR PLEASE………..
Charles Taylor was indicted as being the person bearing the greatest responsibility for the charges he now faces – a question for you: does the indictment say Taylor was personally responsible for committing these acts……. or was Taylor in a position to prevent them or in other ways stop them. I for one find it incredibly AMAZING that for someone that had NO involvement in the SL conflict (as others will argue), NO involvement in arms trade or “blood” diamonds – Taylor has managed to amass a SIGNIFICANT personal wealth in cash, properties (just look at White Flower in Liberia), off shore money and at the same time set up his family and other associates in a similar fashion. The time for forgiveness is over, it is now the time for justice – open your eyes…..this man is a killer, war lord, criminal, traitor to his people and it is time to face the music. The reign of fear, the war mongering, the profiteering from others pain, the blatant disregard for simple human rights, the right to peace……all of these issues require justice to prevail and it will prevail when this man serves the term of his natural life in a prison cell. Wake up and smell the roses, the man is a manipulator, a liar, a COWARD, a criminal and thrives on the attention….as Mr Menjor so rightly stated “We want justice for those who never had the chance to live!”….
Becasue he has a house in Liberia means he stole money? Where is the proof? The prosecution stated Taylor had billions. One cent has not been found. Remember that.
mr fallah menjor or what so ever you call your self, after all this is my point of view. you cannot threaten my life on the taylor’s issue. cgt is a liberian and i am a liberian i have my right to say cgt should be free. you mr. menjor has the right to your point of view.
i did not get involve in taylor’s revolution(war), but i respect him as a former president who was elected by the liberian people including you mr. menjor.
so don’t dress the devil and make fun out of him.
lastly to you menjor, you cannot threaten or put fear in me, that is my point of view as a native liberian.
Ofcourse Victor I understand you are native Liberian and that is why you need a little education on your Basic Civil Rights. However not all Native Liberians need to be told Taylor is on trial for being a Perpetrator behind the Blood Diamond War of Sierra Leone. Enjoy all the benefits you personally accumulated from Taylor or the Education you received in your Native Liberia during the Reign Of CGT as you call your president and hero…waiting to hear your intellectual response!
The accumulation of assets often is associated with material wealth. Do we agree?
In a country where 85% unemployment is prevalent and of course, where it is widely reported that Liberian citizens are reportedly attempting to survive on less that $1US a day, Not to mention the poor standards of living, water purification and soaring rice prices……hence the presence of NGO’s and other aid groups……it is fair to say that to get ahead, only the fortunate were able to relocate overseas and return with their savings. Do we agree?
Now, here is a man who was detained in the USA on allegations of Embezzelment in Liberia….Government money wasn’t it? Yes, never substantiated, yet alleged. Here is a man who is now in custody on a plethera of crimes against humanity etc… Yes, never substantiated, yet alleged. Here is a man who lived the high life in Liberia, beautiful homes and compounds, vast busniess interests and POWER. Yes, never substantiated he unlawfully obtained these funds, but to a REASONABLE person, alleged.
Do you honestly believe that an alleged war lord, embezzling former Head of State in one, if not THE most corrupt countries in the world (check the corruption index) is going to deposit his money with ECOBANK or the Liberian International Bank……do you believe that he will openly declare diamond trading on the black market through Breugge or where-ever and declare his income……..do you honestly believe that he would have his Government write a receipt for the money he embezzled from the Government (look at the Port)…….Charles Taylor is no fool, you mark my words and never in the history of criminal minds and criminal money will these individuals have their money, assets or whatever laying on the table for ease of discovery……please!!! When you have money, you have the best – the best accountants, advisors, lawyers etc….
Charles Taylor is given the presumption of innocence until he is found guilty, IF, he is found guilty – justice. Having said that, take a long look at the world wide justice systems……I would suggest that if you interviewed every prisoner in the world, held in every jail in the world…..75% would tell you they are innocent. I cannot imagine anyone entering a plea of guilty on such serious indictments and spending the rest of their natural life in prison is going to admit it and just wait and see how the displacement of blame comes out – it was his fault, the CIA were involved, I didn’t know about the RUF and so it goes….prove that !!
Aki, in a country where people chanted to Taylor at the election (1997 I think) “You killed my ma, you killed my pa, but I still vote for you” there is considerable weight by similar fact to what occurred in SL – leopards dont change their spots and the greedy dont get less greedy.
I certainly respect what you are suggesting and while it is somewhat true, it does not matter about the money (unless they CAN find it and disperse it to his victims families IF found guilty), there is plenty of corroborated accounts of his transactions. So much mud has been thrown, much of it will stick……Taylor is incredibly fortunate that their is no tribunal in Liberia !!
Hey, great to discuss things in this forum Aki and thank you to the host as well.
There are so many differing opinions…….whatever the case, power, greed, corruption and no respect for human life MUST be irradicated – Africa has enough on it’s plate with malaria, AIDS and HIV.
Concerning the Taylor’s trial.
I am a Liberian, but it is better to say the truth than to lie or to believe and support lies. Anyway, it’s nothing new for those of us who know former president Taylor and if you ever lived in NPFL’s held territory during the days of fighting, Taylor never said the truth and even when he was president. That’s the best conned man Liberia has ever had. He has always being a good actor and we know he will continue. I have nothing personal against my former president (Charles Ghankay Taylor), but he has not just being a genuine person – a truthful person and someone will take responsibility of things he did.
I am so sorry for my ignorance and naive friends who have come to believe Former president Taylor’s lies – that he did not know about RUF and Fodah Sankoh. We all saw and knew Foday Sankoh when the NPFL was fighting in Liberia in the early 1990. Mr. Foday Sankoh even lived in Buchanan between 1990 and 1991 and some of the first group of fighters that went to Sierra were mostly Liberians trained at the NPFL’ Weldenburg base in Buchanan. I can recall a friend who took part in that early fighting in Sierra Leone and died. Everybody living in NPFL’s held territory in Liberia knew that Fodah Sandoh and his RUF’s rebels were trained and armed from Liberia.
Mr. Taylor thinks by lying he will escape, even to the point that there was no child soldier in the NPFL, but that he has orphanage home for children and that he did not use children as soldiers is ridiculous. Nothing good is in him and he has no remorse – he is evil.
Great assessment of Taylor, Mr Orjay! You hit the nail on the head about this evil man! Nothing truthful comes from his twisted mind, I agree, except that there are also people like him who have such minds and continue to listen to his deceit. Just read what these guys are saying in support of this monster that murdered thir own fellow brothers and sisters..are they in their minds? Well what goes aroung comes around and as Taylors’ has come around, so will theirs’ come soon!
I lost my mother and father during the war in liberia when they were taken from chocolate city to gbarnga city by taylor fighters. We all pointing fingers at taylor now because he’s the bad guy. What about the American Government that release him from prison to go and overthrow Samuel K Doe because Mr.Doe did not allow them to script Liberia naked just like what they are doing to irag now.Ellen j. Sirleaf being a spy for America was set free to become president for liberia to accomplished their missoin.Because taylor refuse to disstablized the hole of west africa according to their plan he’s now in prison. I forgive taylor and blame America for the death of my parents. This is how they got millions of people in prison with no charges and no crime they commit. We will rebuild our nation liberia in the name of GOD. Remember America you used liberia to fight your war during war,war1 and war,war 2. You landed war ship on our ocean to lanuch your enemy,AND YOU TURN AROUND AND DISTROYED IN.
Dear Arthur Grispen — I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your father and mother during the war.
Thanks for contributing your thoughts and experience here to this site. I don’t think we have heard from you before, but I would like to welcome you to our discussion.
is unfortunate all this happened in Liberia and Sire alone.i pray the present state of near anarchy boko ha ram is dragging Nigeria to is halted.those sponsoring them should take note,another civil war in Nigeria will be disastrous in the whole of west Africa.
Comments are closed.