By Kylie M Tsudama
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa
THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Charles Taylor claimed in court this week that he had the international community’s approval to grant Sam Bockarie’s political asylum in 1999. He also claimed that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) leaders decided unanimously that Bockarie’s political asylum in Liberia would be the best for Sierra Leone’s peace process.
“Bockarie did not voluntarily leave Sierra Leone. ECOWAS extracted Bockarie from Sierra Leone. That’s how he left. He did not leave Sierra Leone voluntarily. He came to Liberia in December of 1999. People did not know the inside story. But this is what happened. It was an ECOWAS extraction, they took him out of Sierra Leone, he had no choice,” Taylor testified.
Among Taylor’s claims the United States government is said to have made an agreement to provide military training and scholarship for Bockarie during his asylum. Taylor said he was surprised when the United Nations and the United States opposed Bockarie being in Liberia.
Taylor said once Bockarie and his men got Liberian citizenship he recruited them to join his Anti Terrorist Unit (ATU). The ATU was an elite security force that protected Taylor and was headed by his son, Chuckie Taylor, who was convicted of crimes of torture committed in Liberia.
In regard to military and financial support that Taylor allegedly gave to Sierra Leonean rebels in exchange for diamonds, he contends that the expert who testified was unfairly biased against him. Taylor said that Ian Smillie had previously accused him of diamond-for-arms trade when he was appointed an expert by the UN Secretary General. Taylor said questions to the Secretary General regarding Smillie’s appointment went unanswered.
“I had concerns about pople who had made allegations against Liberia being on the panel. You have already prejudiced the report by doing that,” he said.
Taylor called the 2000 UN Expert Panel Report “disgraceful” and said it was full of “disinformation,” maintaining that the report is biased.
Today is the fourth day Taylor has been responding to allegations made against him in that report.
For more information, please see:
CharlesTaylorTrial.org – United Nations Panel is at the Heart of Case Against Taylor, he says – 26 August 2009
CharlesTaylorTrial.org – Charles Taylor Dismisses United Nations Report on Sierra Leone as ‘Disgraceful’ – 25 August 2009
CharlesTaylorTrial.org – Taylor Says UN Report on Diamonds and Guns was Biased Against Him; CIA Helped his Rebel Group – 24 August 2009
CharlesTaylorTrial.org – International Community Sanctioned RUF Commander Sam Bockarie’s Relocation to Liberia; ECOWAS Leaders Changed Rebel Leadership in Sierra Leone, Not Taylor Acting Alone – 23 August 2009