Foreign Policy Blogs

Sierra Leone's Charles Taylor Trial Date Set; US foils Terrorist Plot, Serbs Elect War Criminal.

Sierra Leone's Charles Taylor Trial Date Set; US foils Terrorist Plot, Serbs Elect War Criminal.Opening arguments in the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor will take place on June 4. Taylor, who served as president from 1997 to 2003, is indicted on 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, mass murder, rape, sexual slavery and the conscription of child soldiers. He is under prosecution by the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) convened in the capital, Freetown. Mr. Taylor's trial will be held at the International Criminal Court at The Hague because officials in Sierra Leone fear Taylor's trial will spark civil unrest.

In 1997, following years of unrest, Charles Taylor was elected president in a landslide victory. Campaigning on the motto "He killed me Ma, he killed my Pa, but I will vote for him", Taylor's victory was credited to the fear that he would rekindle the civil war if he were not elected. Taylor rose to power under the tutelage of the Libyan dictator, Muammar Qaddafi. After leaving Libya, Taylor used his guerilla training to spark civil war in Liberia and neighboring Sierra Leone. Trading diamonds for military equipment with Qaddafi, it is estimated that as many as 200,000 people were killed in ethnic conflicts over power and resources, including iron ore and diamonds.

Taylor was forced into exile after the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) and Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) seized control over most of the country. In June 2000, the new president of Sierra Leone requested the United Nations to intervene and try rebel leaders for war crimes committed during the civil war. The United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1315 in August 2000, which started the creation of the SCSL. In June 2003, the United Nations issued an arrest warrant for Taylor, charging him with employing child soldiers, harboring al Qa'ida members, and other atrocities associated with his Revolutionary United Front. He was arrested on March 29th, 2006.

In other news:

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – Six suspected Islamic radicals have been arrested on allegations of plotting an attack on New Jersey's Fort Dix army installation with the aim of killing as many soldiers as possible, officials said on Tuesday.

BELGRADE, May 8 (Reuters) – Serbia's parliament elected Tomislav Nikolic of the ultra nationalist Radical Party as speaker on Tuesday, a decision some politicians said signalled a return to the isolationist nationalism of the 1990s He is deputy leader of the Radicals whose leader Vojislav Seselj is on trial at the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

SCSL/Reuters South Africa/AP



Daniel Graeber

Daniel Graeber is a writer for United Press International covering Iraq, Afghanistan and the broader Levant. He has published works on international and constitutional law pertaining to US terrorism cases and on child soldiers. His first major work, entitled The United States and Israel: The Implications of Alignment, is featured in the text, Strategic Interests in the Middle East: Opposition or Support for US Foreign Policy. He holds a MA in Diplomacy and International Conflict Management from Norwich University, where his focus was international relations theory, international law, and the role of non-state actors.

Areas of Focus:International law; Middle East; Government and Politics; non-state actors