The Taylor Trial in the Press This Week

Dear Readers,

You may be interested in a flurry of articles about the trial for former Liberian President, Charles Taylor, which have emerged in the past week as the cross-examination of Mr. Taylor by prosecutors has restarted.

A bevy of press articles emerged in the last 24 hours in relation to the document prosecutors tried to introduce yesterday in court which was from actress Mia Farrow alleging that Mr. Taylor gave supermodel Naomi Campbell a blood diamond at a dinner in South Africa in 1997.  The judges rejected the use of the document, deciding it was not in the interests of justice to allow its introduction, nor were they convinced that it would not violate Mr. Taylor’s fair trial rights. (You can read Alpha’s coverage of the issue here:

The press reports on this issue were abundant, with varying levels of sensational headlines and unfortunately none that I have seen discussed the issue and judges’ decision on the use of Mia Farrow’s document, which was an important issue in yesterday’s proceedings (although ABC News did note Courtenay Griffiths’ objection, but not the judges’ response) — here are a few for those interested, keeping in mind that these press reports do not tell the whole story of what happened in the courtroom yesterday:

  • AFP’s ” Liberia’s Taylor ‘gave Naomi Campbell a blood diamond'”  can be found here:
  • ABC News’ “Did Naomi Campbell Get a ‘Blood Diamond’ from a Corrupt African Dictator?”  can be found here:
  • Earth Times’  “Former Liberian president Taylor answers blood diamond allegations”  can be found here:,former-liberian-president-taylor-answers-blood-diamond-allegations.html

Meanwhile, one of our readers, Aki, kindly both alerted me to, and sent me copies of, two articles in the New African magazine December 2009 issue (unfortunately not available online unless you have a subscription) – but for those of you following the trial and interested in the Special Court, it may be worth picking up a copy if you see one:

The first “The Taylor Affair” by Osei Boateng is basically an overview of Mr. Taylor’s defense to date.  Boateng traverses a range of topics in his four-page article, including an overview of the defense use of documents during Mr. Taylor’s testimony; the number of witnesses; the changes to the original indictment; the issue of the United States and how its role has been variously described in this trial; Mr. Taylor’s answer to the charges with his counter-narrative (that he is a peacemaker not a war-monger); along with highlights of his testimony to date (Mr. Taylor’s testimony on Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s alleged role in creating the rebel group National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), his time in Libya and his NPFL group’s and his relationship with Ali Kabbah, the leader of a group called the Sierra Leonean Pan-African Revolutionary Movement, while training outside of Tripoli, and not with the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels – the group Mr. Taylor is now alleged to have both helped and controlled as they committed atrocities during the Sierra Leone war).

The second article is a fairly critical analysis of the Special Court for Sierra Leone written by a Sierra Leonean journalist, Lansana Gberie, who has also written a book on the RUF.  In this article, “The Redundant Court For Sierra Leone,” Mr. Gberie questions the utility of the continuing operations of the Special Court in Freetown after all its cases have finished (bar the Taylor trial in The Hague) and its prisoners have all been transferred to Rwanda where they are serving their sentences.  Reporting from  Kailahun in eastern Sierra Leone – the place he describes as where the Sierra Leonean war began after the RUF overran the district and occupied the town – when the final convictions of the RUF leaders on trial at the Special Court were announced, he describes an absence of discussion or reaction in the town. He says the local radio did not report the convictions, nor did anyone in the town mention the trial while he was there. This lack of  “evident interest” in Kailahun was, he surmised, was probably because “the entire exercise in international justice, which has now cost nearly $300m and taken over six years, is probably ineffective.” He ends with former prosecutor Stephen Rapp’s reflections in Time magazine, where Mr. Rapp ponders developing a court in the national system in Sierra Leone if he had the opportunity to do it all over again.

On a different topic, the Sierra Leonean “Awoko” newspaper conducted an interview with the Special Court’s Acting Prosecutor, Joseph Kamara, in which he rejects the notion that the Taylor trial is a political one and “is being manipulated by the West especially America”; discussed the evidence of Mr. Taylor’s covert account; and talked also about the British government’s agreement to reserve a cell for Mr. Taylor if he is convicted at the end of the trial.  You can find the story here:,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=7483&cntnt01returnid=15


  1. Tracey,
    This is welcome news when do you anticipate this happening? I am sure all bloggers whether you agree with Mr. Crane or not will treat him with due respect.

    1. Hi Aki — we are set to interview Mr. Crane on January 29 — so two weeks away from today. Plenty of time for readers to think of questions, I hope.


  2. Tracey, those press reports are saying the same things, what the prosecution “assumed” to have happen. The prosecution has said many things about Mr. Taylor and his involvement in Sierra Leone. What the prosecution has not done is produce any creditable evidence to back up those things they have said.

    If Mr. Taylor did give Ms. Campbell a diamond the prosecution has not prove it was a diamond given to his by the RUF to sale for weapons and that it even came from Sierra Leone. The diamond that the prosecution is worry about could have been acquired in South Africa.

  3. Great posting on these articles, but I will like to reply to the second article by Lansana Gberie about the special court for sierra leone. I disgaree with Mr. Gberie that this exercise was ineffective. Difficult, certainly but ineffective I don’t think so. The fact of the mattter is that, this area of west africa was in such a mess brought upon the region by greedy individuals who were bent on subjecting their fellow humans to degrading treatment inorder to attain public office by force regardless.

    In the process, every structure and system that seem to resemble decency and organisation was either destroyed or pressured underground, leaving a vaccum, in which they flourish. At the end of the conflict very little structure was left to support what many think SCSL should look like. Nevertheless, I believe they have done and are doing a brilliant job with very limited resources.

    Of course it will be great idea to have this on the radio and everywhere but the most Sierra Leonean simply want to forget this horrible nightmare and I think we have /are seeing the same thing in Liberia. Sierra Leone and Liberia(when they do get an international court) govts should try and be more involve with these trials. I know it could be a political minefield and many people (mainly politcians) are trying not to get caught in the middle but this is our problem and we should now start taking major role in informing our people(Liberians and Sierra Leonean) on what is going.

    I know Lans Gberie, infact I met him when he was a student in Bo, in the late 80s and he is a brillaint person but I disagree with him on this one.

    1. Thanks Eagle-Eye (Returns) — you make some really interesting points here about the value that the Special Court has brought to Sierra Leone, and also about the importance of getting better governmental support for these types of courts and trials. I wish we could link to Lans Gberie’s article here as I think it would provoke a lot of discussion amongst readers, but alas it is not available online without a subscription.

      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts on this.


  4. This case has seriously exposed the propoganda nature of most western media and have taught some of us a serious lesson not to anymore value the reporting of most western press. Consider this issue of Noami Campbell and a diamond deal with Taylor, except for the ABC news which reported the story factually that it was the prosecution allegations against Mr. Taylor. Most of the western press, especially the famous AP reported the story as if it was a fact that Mr. Taylor actually sold diamonds to Ms. Campbell.

    It is these kinds of lies and deceptions in western media that continue to demonize the great leaders of African, simply because those western media are business projects for the profiteers and exploiters of this world. Western media has lost its journalistic independence and have become a mouthpiece for their corporate masters who goes around the world to prey on poor nations and its people.

    It is so sick that some Africans have not come to the realization that we need to band forces with the good people of the west who are also suffering the power of media propoganda in their own societies. The power of lobbyists and special interest groups have dominated western society in total disregard to the sufferings of poor people in those soceities. Africans must stop allowing those western profiteers and explioters to keep abusing them and using our natural resources to also suppress poor people in their own western societies.

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