Issues In Perspective: Taylor May Testify in London in Libel Case

President Charles Taylor of Liberia may have to give a personal testimony in a libel case which his British lawyers have filed in London against the London Times, disputing allegations that he personally engaged in cannibalism during the Liberian civil war that took about 250,000 lives and destroyed the West African country of 2.6 million.

The case emanates from a book written by an Oxford academic Stephen Ellis - titled "The Mask of Anarchy" - that details the atrocities which were committed during the Liberian civil war. The book, the first of its kind since the end of hostilities, gives indepth details of the historical, political and cultural factors that contributed to the destruction of the West African nation founded by freed American slaves in 1822. The Liberian civil war ended in 1997 with the election of Charles Taylor, one of the warlords who commanded one of the country's many warring factions reputed to have committed some of the gruesome atrocities even by African standards.

The case is expected to be a high profile one. Ghana's feared security chief, Kojo Tshikata, once filed a libel case in London and lost, but it remains to be seen how the Liberian president, accused of many human rights abuses and of backing Sierra Leone's rebels who were known to have instituted a campaign of terror against civilians characterized by amputation of many, including children and women, will fare.

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