YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


U.N. Tribunal Rejects Immunity for Taylor

June 01, 2004|From Associated Press

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — A United Nations-backed court for Sierra Leone ruled Monday that ousted Liberian President Charles Taylor was not immune to prosecution for war crimes.

Taylor, in exile in Nigeria, is the most prominent figure to be indicted by the war crimes court. He is accused of backing Sierra Leone's rebels in a brutal civil war while he led neighboring Liberia.

The court's three judges said Taylor's claim of immunity as a former head of state did not apply because the court is international, not national.

New York-based Human Rights Watch welcomed the ruling, calling it a "victory for Taylor's many victims."

It "puts dictators in Africa and elsewhere on notice that if they commit similar crimes, they will not be shielded from international justice," Reed Brody, a Human Rights Watch special counsel, said in a statement.

The organization urged Nigeria to turn Taylor over for trial.

The court is scheduled to begin trying people Thursday on charges stemming from Sierra Leone's 10-year war, in which rebels waged an escalating terrorist campaign for control of the country's diamond mines, frequently hacking off the limbs of men, women and children.

Armed intervention by Guinea, Britain and the United Nations finally routed the rebels, who signed a peace deal in 2002.

Taylor, a former warlord blamed for much of West Africa's bloodshed, fled rebels in his own country last year. He entered exile in Nigeria, which has agreed not to extradite him to the court.

Los Angeles Times Articles