THE HAGUE // In a momentous decision for West Africa and the international justice system, a special court yesterday held the former Liberian president and regional strongman Charles Taylor responsible for crimes against humanity committed by rebel forces he supported in Sierra Leone more than 10 years ago.
The judges had deliberated for more than a year after hearing more than three years of evidence and witness statements involving commanders with nicknames such as Zigzag and Rambo Red Goat. The trial also featured celebrity witnesses such as model Naomi Campbell, who said she had received diamonds from Mr Taylor. More than 50,000 people are estimated to have died in the 1991-2002 civil war in Sierra Leone.
Suliman Baldo, Africa Director of the International Center for Transitional Justice in New York, said: "This sends a strong message to the powerful in Africa and beyond that your position, your formal and traditional immunity, are not going to shield you from responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity."