Contrary to reports circulated on Social Media, Jailed Liberian war criminal and ex-President Charles Taylor is alive. UK’s Ministry of Justice has told the BBC.
Taylor, 67, is serving a 50-year prison sentence in the UK following his conviction by a UN-backed court for backing rebels in Sierra Leone during the 1991-2002 civil war.
Charles McArthur Ghankay Taylor (born 28 January 1948) is a Liberian politician who was the 22nd President of Liberia, serving from 2 August 1997 until his resignation on 11 August 2003.
Born in Arthington, Montserrado County, Liberia, Taylor earned a degree at Bentley College in the United States before returning to Liberia to work in the government of Samuel Doe. After being removed for embezzlement, he eventually arrived in Libya, where he was trained as a guerilla fighter. He returned to Liberia in 1989 as the head of a Libyan-backed rebel group, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia, to overthrow the Doe regime, initiating the First Liberian Civil War (1989–96). Following Doe’s execution, Taylor gained control of a large portion of the country and became one of the most prominent warlords in Africa. Following a peace deal that ended the war, Taylor coerced the population into electing him president in the 1997 general election by threatening to resume the war otherwise.
During his term of office, Taylor was accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity as a result of his involvement in the Sierra Leone Civil War (1991–2002). Domestically, opposition to his regime grew, culminating in the outbreak of the Second Liberian Civil War (1999–2003). By 2003, he had lost control of much of the countryside and was formally indicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. That year, he resigned as a result of growing international pressure and went into exile in Nigeria. In 2006, the newly elected President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, formally requested his extradition, after which he was detained by UN authorities in Sierra Leone and then at the Penitentiary Institution Haaglanden in The Hague, awaiting trial. He was found guilty in April 2012 of all eleven charges levied by the Special Court, including terror, murder and rape. In May of 2012, Taylor was sentenced to 50 years in prison. Reading the sentencing statement, Presiding Judge Richard Lussick said: “The accused has been found responsible for aiding and abetting as well as planning some of the most heinous and brutal crimes recorded in human history.
Omolara Adegoke – Abuja
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