Liberia: Jewel & the Trial of Agnes Taylor

Switzerland's Federal Criminal Court.

Accused of a string of torture offences and human rights violations, Agnes Taylor, one of the ex-wives of former President Charles Taylor is set to appear in a UK court.

The charges date back to Liberia's civil war almost 20 years ago and she appears to be prosecuted under the of "a public official or person acting in an official capacity".

The case could potentially expose other officially known wives of the polygamist warlord including Liberia's current Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor.

In 2012, Charles Taylor was sentenced by The Hague to 50 years in prison for aiding rebels who committed atrocities in neighboring Sierra Leone .

Agnes has denied all charges, including one relating to a woman witnessing the shooting of her two children while she was tied up.

Agnes Taylor, 52, is also accused of conspiring to use rape to torture women during the west African country's civil war in 1990. Another allegation states that the former university lecturer was involved in the torture of a child, who was tied to a tree and witnessed the shooting of others.

She entered not guilty pleas to eight charges.

The first relates to alleged rapes by (National Patriotic Front of Liberia) NPFL forces in a village in Liberia. Three more relate to the alleged torture of a 13-year-old boy by severely beating him. A fifth relates to the alleged torture of a man by severely beating him, while a sixth relates to the alleged torture of another man by shooting him in the leg.

The seventh relates to the alleged torture of an unnamed child, who was allegedly tied to a tree and witnessed the shooting of others, while the eighth relates to the alleged torture of a "pastor's wife" in 1990 by tying her up and her witnessing the shooting of her two children.

All of the alleged offences are said to have been committed while Ms Taylor was "a public official or person acting in an official capacity".

Each of the torture counts states her alleged actions were "in the performance or purported performance of [her] official duties".

The trial of Agnes Taylor could have implication for other former Wives of the jailed ex-President. Jewel Taylor for instance was associated and married to Taylor when some of the horrific war crimes and human rights violations of his rebel and presidential regime were committed.

At the heart of the Civil war in the 1990s, Jewel left the comfort of US home and traveled to Taylor's rebel territory demonstrate her loyalty and support, she told News Week.

In a May 2012 interview with Newsweek's Clair MacDougall Jewel downplayed and denied the Charles Taylor recruitment of children into rebel army. She said Samuel K. Doe soldiers orphaned them and that Taylor treated them like a father.

Clair: when talking about child soldiers, she told me that Taylor "loved children" and that the rebel's Small Boys Units were made up of children orphaned by government forces. "They were people who did not have access to their parents, because they had been killed," she said. "They saw [Taylor] as a father figure. And if you visit areas of Monrovia and talk to a lot of ex-combatants, they call him papay--'our father'--somebody who came to their aid when there was no one else," she said.

Four years after that interview, she met with US state Department officials to beg for the release of her ex- husband (former President Charles Taylor) from prison and his subsequent return to Liberia, minutes from the September 13, 2017 Congressional hearing on Liberia showed.

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