‘NOT GUILTY’ -Taylor Tells the Court

By: Lewis K. Glay


Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

Posted April 4, 2006


Former Liberian President Charles Taylor has denounced the 11-count charges leveled against him by the UN backed Special Count in Freetown, Sierra Leone for allegedly committing crimes against humanity.

Mr. Taylor for the first time appeared before the court yesterday at 3 pm along with four lawyers presumed to be defending him, when the charges were reportedly read to him against which he was quoted as responding that he is “not guilty” of any single charge he has been accused of by the court.

Accordingly, Mr. Taylor said the court does not have any jurisdiction to try him because he is the 21st President of the Republic of Liberia who still enjoys such immunity.

But, the Presiding Judge reportedly reminded Mr. Taylor that such right no longer exists and he has to be prosecuted by the Special Court on accounts of the 11 charges made against him.

Looking serious throughout the initial proceeding, Taylor who was dressed in a dark coat suit with red tie, sat behind a bulletproof glass with mineral water bottle set by him was surrounded by a team of lawyers when he requested that the trial be done in Sierra Leone instead of The Hague.

He was quoted as raising concerns about logistical problem if the trial were to be transferred to The Hague, given the fact that his lawyers and family members would need to be present during his trial.

He is said to have also expressed concern about the death of Foday Sankor in detention as another problem he sees with the court.

Reports from Freetown also indicate that the courtroom was tense as family members of Mr. Taylor as well as members of Sierra Leonean civil society groups were all present to witness the first trial of the indicted former president.

Responding to these concerns, the court authority is said to have informed Mr. Taylor and his lawyers that their requests have been passed on to the clerk of the court for onward communication to the UN Security Council which has been adopting resolution for the transfer of the trial to The Hague.

The 11-count charges against Mr. Taylor include rape, terrorism, murder, enslavement and use of child soldiers, among others. When he was asked whether he understood them, he reportedly replied, “Yes, I do.”

Meanwhile, the hearing was adjourned but no new date was set for Taylor’s next appearance in court.

© 2006: This article is copyrighted by the Forum newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved. Forum can reached at: Forum@theperspective.org