The former Liberian President Charles Taylor has taken the stand at his war crimes trial in the Hague.
In his first statements from the witness box, he has rejected accusations of instigating murder, rape, mutilation, sexual slavery and the conscription of child soldiers. The charges stem from the civil war in Sierra Leone in the 1990s. Taylor told the court: “I have fought all my life to do what I was thought was right in the interests of justice and fairplay. I resent that characterisation of me. It is false. It is malicious.” More than 250,000 people died in the intertwined wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Prosecutors accuse Taylor of directing RUF rebels in Sierra Leone in a campaign of terror to destabilise its government.