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Taylor denies role in conflict diamonds

Charles Taylor testified Tuesday before the U.N.-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone for the first time, calling the charges against him bogus.

Taylor served as president of Liberia during the 1991-2002 civil war in neighboring Sierra Leone. Taylor allied with the leader of the Revolutionary United Front, Foday Sankoh, operating in Sierra Leone to hijack the regions lucrative diamond fields.

Prosecutors at the tribunal accuse Taylor of attempting to undermine the sovereignty of Sierra Leone in order to control the lucrative diamond trade. Specifically, lawyers say Taylor provided weapons and support for the RUF in exchange for so-called blood diamonds.

RUF rebels conscripted child soldiers by using narcotics to condition them into waging a gruesome war on area villages and communities.

Taking the stand Tuesday before the special court for the first time since his trial began almost 2 years ago, Taylor flatly rejected his role in conflict diamonds.

“Never, ever did I receive — whether it is (in) mayonnaise or coffee or whatever jar — any diamonds from the RUF,” he said. “It is a lie, a diabolical lie.”

Taylor’s defense team does not deny these horrific events took place, but they do dispute the level of his involvement.



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