By Kylie M Tsudama
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa
THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Last week Charles Taylor testified that he negotiated the release of UN peacekeepers in Sierra Leone. He also denied having control over Liberians who traveled to Sierra Leone during its 11-year civil war.
These Liberians migrated to Sierra Leone after Taylor came into power. They joined either the Special Task Force, which was a group of Liberians aiding the Sierra Leonean army, or the RUF, the Liberian rebel group called the Revolutionary United Front. Taylor denied having any power over them saying he would not have been able to punish them for any crimes committed in Sierra Leone.
“How do you punish someone when he is not under your control? You can only be responsible for people under your direct command. Nobody can say that Taylor ordered me to do X, Y, or Z. I did not have contact with them and there was no control over them. I did not help them in any way,” Taylor said.
Taylor maintains that the United States and Britain were misinformed when they alleged that he supported RUF rebels and supplied them with arms and ammunition and provided a safe haven in Liberia for rebels. He said the two countries were “after him.”
During testimony Taylor provided a detailed timeline which would show Sierra Leone and the international community that he wanted peace in Sierra Leone and was not supporting the RUF rebels.
Taylor admitted to actively participating in efforts to get President Tejan Kabbah and RUF leader Foday Sankoh into peace negotiations but denied doing it for Sankoh’s benefit.
“My plan to bring peace to Sierra Leone was not for Foday Sankoh but for the people of Sierra Leone. This has never been for Sankoh but for Sierra Leone. I was in a hurry to do something for my people in Liberia and this cannot move ahead without peace in Sierra Leone. If there is no peace in Sierra Leone, there will be no peace in Liberia,” he said.
Taylor claims he encouraged Sankoh to change the RUF into a political machine, saying, “Stop the war, go into politics, drop the gun and go into politics. You can’t go into politics with a gun in your hand.”
RUF ‘Salute Report’ from Sam Bockarie to Foday Sankoh makes no mention of help from Taylor.
For more information, please see:
CharlesTaylorTrial.org – RUF Salute Report Made no Mention of Help Received From Charles Taylor – 13 August 2009
CharlesTaylorTrial.org – “My Interest in Sierra Leone was for Peace for the People, Not Foday Sankoh,” Taylor Says – 12 August 2009
CharlesTaylorTrial.org – Charles Taylor Expelled RUF Collaborators From Liberia; Gives a Chronology of Steps He Took to Bring Peace to Sierra Leone – 11 August 2009
CharlesTaylorTrial.org – Taylor Did Not Have Control Over Liberians Who Travelled to Sierra Leone, Blames West for Mis-Information – 10 August 2009
Impunity Watch – Update: Charles Taylor Trial – 10 August 2009