Saturday, June 09, 2007


When Charles Taylor's trial was moved from Sierra Leone to The Hague, the United Nations and its western backers argued he would not receive a fair trial in Sierra Leone and that he risked being killed by his victims.

Well, he was taken to The Hague where he lives in a cell whose comfort millions of his victims would never dream of. The much anticipated beginning of his trial came on Monday and what did the former Liberian strongman do? He boycotted it.

Oh, he had a reason alright.

"I am driven to conclude that I will not receive a fair trial at this time and I must decline to attend hearings," said Taylor in a letter read out by his defence lawyer Karim Khan. "I cannot take part in this charade that does injustice to the people of Liberia and the people of Sierra Leone."

This coming from a guy who is answering to 11 counts of murder, kidnapping, torture and all sorts of other human rights abuses to thousands of Sierra Leoneans and Liberians. Now he wants justice for his victims?

Taylor's letter went on: "I have only one counsel to appear on my behalf against nine on the prosecution team. This is neither fair nor just."

I wonder whether he knew the terms "fair" and "just" when he was a warlord terrorizing most of West Africa in the 1990s. Looting Sierra Leone's diamonds and using them to fund rebels who raped, maimed and killed.

Familiar story
But Khan was not finished. He went on to tell Judge Julia Sebutinde he had been fired by Taylor who said he would represent himself.

If you are wondering where you heard this before, it happened in the same court, a few years ago when another dictator, Serbian Slobodan Milosevic, was on trial at The Hague.

Milosevic turned the International Court of Justice (ICJ) into a four-year circus that only ended with his death early last year. No doubt Charles Taylor was watching Milosevic's antics like all of us. The difference is that we were agonizing at how a justice process was being subverted at will by the former dictator while Taylor was probably taking down notes. If he were a student, he would be on course to an "A" grade.

If the United Nations and its western backers are serious about deterring would be despots and war criminals from emulating the likes of Milosevic and Taylor, they should close the ICJ immediately. It is a toothless body that gobbles millions of taxpayers' money without producing anything.

People like Charles Taylor do not deserve the kid-glove treatment they are accorded at The Hague.

These are men who played by the sword and in my best view they should die by the sword.
Charles Taylor ordered or did nothing to stop his predecessor, Samuel Doe from being kicked and stoned until he died on the streets of Monrovia. He ordered the raping, maiming and killing of thousands of his own people. He simply has no heart and you do not handle men like him so softly.

I must state clearly that I do not condone street justice. However, I think if Taylor had been tried in Sierra Leone, he would have respected the trial process better.

The way he is treating the ICJ and the way the court is letting him do that, gives a green light to those still persecuting innocent people to carry on knowing that when they are done butchering people, they will retire to The Hague to die in comfort.


1 comment:

Asher Tarivona Mutsengi said...

All dictators must taste the medicine.