Former Liberian President Charles Taylor was found guilty Thursday of aiding and abetting grave human rights abuses and war crimes in a historic verdict by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. While Taylor was not found guilty of masterminding the atrocities, he became the first former African head of state to be convicted in an international court. In Taylor’s native Liberia and in Sierra Leone, where the crimes were committed, interest in the verdict was very high.
Liberians gathered around radios and televisions or watched online, using slow connections at internet cafes, as former President Charles Taylor was convicted of involvement in war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sierra Leone.
Key Dates in Charles Taylor’s Life
1983: Flees Liberia after being accused of embezzling government funds
1985: Escapes from a U.S. jail after one year in prison (This is where things are grey)
1989: Resurfaces in Liberia, launches rebellion
1991: RUF rebels attack villages in Sierra Leone from Liberia.
1997: Elected president of Liberia
2003: Special Court for Sierra Leone indicts Taylor on initial charges, months later he steps down as president and takes asylum in Nigeria.
2006: Arrested in Nigeria and sent to The Hague for trial
2007: War crimes trial opens in The Hague.
2012: Convicted of aiding and abetting war crimes