13 June 2017

Liberia: 'Grave War Crimes'

It is now known that the ex-wife of convicted former Liberian president Charles Taylor is alleged to have allowed the rape and torture of seven women during the heydays of the country's civil war.

Agnes Reeves-Taylor, 51, is alleged to have condoned the rape and torture of the victims which, according to British court records, amount to 'extremely grave war crimes'.

The court said during the civil war in Liberia, Agnes Reeves is alleged to have allowed the rape and torture of the seven women at the Headquarters of Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) in Gbarnga.

The crimes were reportedly committed between December 23, 1989 and January 1, 1991. About this time, Mr. Taylor's forces were in control of most part of the country, and the only resistance he faced was from the sub-regional bloc, ECOMOG and independent National Patriotic of Liberia (INPFL) led by former rebel leader, Prince Johnson, now a lawmaker in Liberia.

In court, Agnes denied all allegations, saying she can't remember what actually transpired during that period. Currently, she's behind bar awaiting another court appearance.

However, the Judge hearing the case, Michael Snow, told Madam Reeves-Taylor that she faces 'extremely serious allegations of rape and torture'

Mr. Olasoju, a defending lawyer said: 'When she was arrested she was a senior lecturer at Coventry University, a head of department.

Madam Taylor owns a home in Britain and has two daughters in that country also. The defense solicitor - who refused to give his first name - added: 'She has been in this country for the last 18 years.

She claimed asylum in this country because she feared that those who were after her husband would be after her.

Madam Reeves and Mr. Taylor parted in 1996, and since then, she has lived outside of Liberia.

The first part of the conflict in Liberia ended when a final peace agreement led to the election of Taylor as President of Liberia in 1997. In 1999, Reeves-Taylor, a mum-of-two daughter, arrived in Britain as an asylum seeker and was working as a senior lecturer in business at Coventry University.

However, a second civil war broke out in 1999 and Taylor was forced into exile in 2003 after two rebel groups had besieged the capital, which prompted his exit from power.

Madam Reeves Taylor was placed on a travel ban by the UN Security Council, but in 2012, the UN lifted sanctions against her and 16 other Liberians linked to the former president.

The asset freezes and travel bans were imposed more than a decade ago in a bid to weaken Taylor while he was in power.

Mr. Taylor was jailed by UN-backed court in 2012 for fueling Sierra Leone's civil war.


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