Ex-warlord Charles Taylor is facing 11 counts of instigating murder, rape, mutilation, sexual slavery and conscripting child soldiers. It is alleged these were tools used to plunge Sierra Leone into an era of pure horror. Between 1989 and 2003 war after war cost 300,000 lives and hundreds of thousands of refugees.
Soldiers, often drugged, reputedly raped and amputated at will, and were accused of cannibalism. Many of them were children. Despite all this, and following an internationally-brokered peace deal in 1995, Charles Taylor was elected Liberia’s president in 1997. But in 2003, six years after the start of the insurrection fought by the LURD forces, with backing from neighbour states and the USA, Taylor was forced to quit. He handed the presidency to his deputy, but remained defiant. “I leave you with these parting words: God willing I will be back,” he said. But after a golden exile in Nigeria he and his son were arrested with sacks of banknotes trying to slip over the Cameroon frontier in 2006.