Charles Taylor has accused the United Nations of making him responsible for the presence of Liberian fighters among rebel forces in Sierra Leone during its 11-year conflict and this misconception had landed him in jail today.
Mr. Taylor’s defence counsel Courtenay Griffiths read from a United Nations (UN) Security Council report which stated that over 100 Liberian fighters were identified among rebel forces killed by Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) soldiers after the military intervention that forced the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) and Revolutionary United Front (RUF) junta from power in 1998. The report further read that about 65 Liberian fighters had been arrested and detained at Sierra Leone’s maximum security prisons. The information is said to have been provided by Mr. Francis Okello, the then Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Sierra Leone.
Mr. Taylor denied these allegations and informed the judges that the government of Sierra Leone was aware that the Liberians fighting in Sierra Leone were not sent by him, but were former members of the Liberian army who had escaped to Sierra Leone. He also stated that the Liberians had become part of the Special Task Force then hired to fight alongside the Sierra Leone army.
“We are shocked by this because we knew, the government of Sierra Leone and ECOWAS knew who the Liberians were,” Mr. Taylor said.
Mr. Taylor said that this was the first time that such an allegation had been made against him and it only happened when he asked the UN Security Council to lift the arms embargo that had been imposed on Liberia. “ It is a complete shock to me and my government,” Mr. Taylor said. “If Okello had taken his time to investigate the matter, he would have known that they were not my people. If he had done his homework, he would have known the fact. He did not do his homework he added.”