The former President of Liberia has arrived in the Hague to stand trial on multiple charges of war crimes. Charles Taylor was flown to the Netherlands due to fears that his continuing presence in West Africa would provoke violence and unrest. The Hague agreed to be the venue for the trial if a third party would agree to imprison Taylor if convicted. The UK has agreed to jail him if need be.
A special UN-backed court in Sierra Leone was to try Taylor on charges that he backed rebels in the country’s civil war in the 1990’s. Officials from that court will preside over the ICC hearing. Sierra Leone was drawn into a spiral of violence along with Guinea and Nigeria after Taylor began Liberia’s civil war in 1989.
It came to an end in 2003 when Taylor agreed to go into exile in Nigeria. But by then tens of thousands had died in the inter-linked conflicts. A trial could still be some months away. Taylor has yet to appoint a legal team. The rebels were notorious for their brutality – it is alleged they used machetes to maim civilians, as well killing, raping and robbing them. Many of the rebel fighters were little more than children.