11 October 2013

Liberia: To Leave the Hague - Taylor Given 72hr - Ultimatum

Photo: RNW
Former Liberian president Charles Taylor in court.

Authorities at the UN backed Special Court for Sierra Leone has given ex-President Charles Taylor 72 hours to be transferred to a British prison, exactly two weeks after judges of the Court Appeal's Chamber upheld the 50 years sentence imposed by the Trial Chamber.

A request by Taylor's defense lawyers that he rather be transferred to Rwanda, where many of the Special Court convicts are serving their prison terms was said to have been turned down by the registrar on Thursday after the decision was reached to send Taylor to the UK.

A Special Court source told this paper Thursday that a similar request was made by Norway for Taylor to serve his sentence in that country but same was denied by the registrar, who indicated that only the judges of the court could grant such request.

This paper further learnt on Thursday evening that Special Court Judges were expected to issue a statement relative to the Taylor transfer last night.

The African Union or AU which is expected to meet in Uganda probably next week to discuss Africans participation at the International Criminal Court or ICC is yet to respond to a letter written by the Taylor family requesting that it plays an influential role in ensuring that Mr. Taylor serves his prison terms on African soil.

A spokesman for the Taylor family last night expressed disappointment in the AU for turning a blind eye on the Taylor prison destination row and its refusal to reply their letter.

Mr. Arthur Saye said the family fear for Taylor's safety in a UK prison is based on the fact that there is a large Sierra Leonean community in London and also the role played by Britain in the Sierra Leonean conflict. He said Taylor's children who numbered 10 would find it very difficult to visit him in UK but would be easier if it were in say Rwanda.

Call upon the AU Ambassador to Liberia last night to verify claims by the Taylor family concerning a written request for the AU's intervention was unsuccessful as Amb. Tony Solajah MTN mobile rang endlessly.

The Special Court Appeals Chamber on September 26, 2013 unanimously upheld the conviction of Mr. Taylor on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and affirmed the 50-year sentence imposed by the Trial Chamber.

The Court ordered at the time that Mr. Taylor's sentence be enforced immediately, and that he will remain in the custody of the Special Court pending finalization of arrangements to serve his sentence.

Great Britain had remained the destination where Mr. Taylor could serve his sentence, but Rwanda was a second destination being considered as well. Under Rule 103(B) of the Court's Rules, Mr. Taylor's place of imprisonment is determined by the Special Court President.

Mr. Taylor is said to have spent 8 years in detention during his trial. If 8 years are subtracted from his 50 years sentence, this means that Mr. Taylor will be doing 42-years in a UK jail.

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