Friday, February 29, 2008

Charles Taylor: Witness in hiding after threats

Today I have received news that the trial being held in the Hague is causing angst among its witnesses. One in particular, Varmuyan Sherif, has been threatened for testifying against his boss, Charles Taylor, ex-(warlord) president of Liberia. He is suspected of threatening his as well as many others. The article is below (because after a certain amount of time, they move these articles never to be read again!).

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) -- A key insider witness who testified against Charles Taylor has gone into hiding after being threatened for giving evidence at the former Liberian president's war crimes trial, the chief prosecutor said Thursday.

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor, left, sits in the International Criminal Court before testimony in January. Varmuyan Sherif, a former bodyguard for Taylor, and his family have been relocated since he testified in January in The Hague, said Stephen Rapp of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The threats, which are being investigated by police and United Nations officials in Liberia, underscore fears voiced by prosecutors before the trial that witnesses could be endangered by testifying against Taylor, who still has a wide network of supporters in Liberia.

Rapp said rocks were thrown at Sherif's home and a threatening letter was sent to his brother after Sherif testified that Taylor smuggled arms, cash and communications equipment from Liberia to one of the most notoriously brutal militias in the Sierra Leone war. "He has been temporarily relocated and efforts are ongoing to determine whether it's safe for him to return or whether he needs to be permanently relocated," Rapp said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Sherif is not the only witness targeted, he said. "We have had other instances of witnesses being threatened and written communications being delivered to their homes," Rapp said. That has made some witnesses wary of appearing in the Hague courtroom where Taylor is being tried by the U.N.-backed court. "There are situations where if witnesses can't testify in closed session it's going to be very, very difficult to persuade them to testify," Rapp said. Several witnesses at the Taylor trial already have testified behind closed doors because of fears of reprisals.

Rapp, who has been in Africa for most of the trial, said he was pleased with the case so far. He said the Taylor prosecution was given a significant boost last week by a ruling from the court's appeals chamber that said rebels linked to Taylor were part of an organized plot, known as a joint criminal enterprise, to destabilize Sierra Leone with a campaign of terror and loot its diamond mines. "It's enormously significant to us in this case," Rapp said. "The biggest victory we've had to date in the Taylor trial was the decision by the appeal chamber in Freetown last Friday."

Taylor has pleaded not guilty to charges that include murder, rape, torture, enlisting child soldiers and pillaging towns and villages during Sierra Leone's 10-year civil war that ended in 2002. His trial is being held in a courtroom rented from the International Criminal Court because of fears [that] prosecuting him in Sierra Leone could spark fresh violence. [Source: CNN.]

Don't Miss: Taylor war crimes trial resumes.

I have no idea why it takes so long to sentence him (to death), especially after he has already pled guilty to war crimes! It is even sadder that he will not receive the death penalty, even after all the innocent people he tortured. WHERE ARE THEIR CIVIL RIGHTS, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH?

Let me bring you up to speed:

1. Charles Taylor was educated in the USA. He then went to Liberia, took over the country, and led these poor people into 18-20 years of wars.
2. He fought other wars behind scenes against his neighbors, one of them being Sierra Leone.
3. We threw him out of office in 2001-2.
4. He was allowed to flee to Nigeria.
5. When he was going to be charged with war crimes, he was allowed to escape.
6. We caught him.
7. He was brought up on 17 charges in Sierra Leone, including crimes against humanity in the year 2006.
8. His appeal to have the charges dropped failed.
9. The trial began in January 2007.

And so now here we are all these months later, and what do we have to show for it? The failure of due process and due diligence and a timely trial, all because of the interference of the United Nations! Argghhh!

Linkfest Haven, the Blogger's Oasis

Posts I've trackbacked to at Samantha Burns' OTA: S. The Crazy Rantings of Samantha Burns: The Anti-Earth Hour Campaign, F. Stix Blog: Amur leopard, F. Pirate's Cove (M, F): Weekend Pirate Linkfest Sticky Post 2/29-3/2, F. The World According to Carl: Open Trackback Friday — February 29, 2008, F. Woman Honor Thyself: Gender Equality at the UN?..Ha, Wknd. Leaning Straight Up: Survey: Only 7% of Muslims want to kill us - Gee I feel better, Wknd. 123beta (F, Wknd): Rotten Neighbors, Wknd. Stuck On Stupid: Stop The ACLU Blogburst: Supremes Reject Domestic Spying Case, Su. Grandinite: Obamanomics, Wknd. Blue Star Chronicles: Leap Year Leap Day Links, Su. The Amboy Times: Nazi and Islamic Propoganda, LyfLines: Security ads, OneManBandwidth: One of the things wrong with history…, Su. Free Constitution: Limited Blogging, Su. Conservative Culture (Su, T): Former Officer Cutts Remains on Payroll.

These do not have a post for OTA, but they are good sites: S. Church and State, Su. Stageleft, Su. walls of the city, Wknd. The Uncooperative Blogger, Wknd. The Bullwinkle Blog, S. Point Five.

Posts I've trackbacked to at Linkfest and other sites: The World According To Carl: Retirement The CAVALRY Way, Wolf Pangloss: I had a dream about Barack Obama, Wolf Pangloss: Leap Day Weekend Open Post and Trackbacks.

Posts that have trackbacked to this post:
1. Stix Blog: Amur leopard. Digg! Digg!

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