Taylor betrayed by his own

04 February 2008 by Thierry Cruvellier

The prosecutor continues to present testimony from the "insiders"—former Liberians or Sierra Leoneans who claim to have worked for the former president of Liberia. After three weeks of public arguments, the trial of Charles Taylor was moved behind closed doors on January 24. But before that happened, the public had been able to hear a witness who linked Taylor to the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone—Abu Keita, a former leader of the Liberian armed group Ulimo-K like a previous witness, Varmuyan Sherif.

Keita doesn't know how to read, but he was deputy chief of staff of this rebellion mounted in 1990 against Taylor, who would share the power with him starting in 1994. Following a thwarted conspiracy against Taylor in September 1998, Keita was put in prison in Monrovia. It was his friend Sherif, who had become a member of the special security services, who came to have him released. The price for Keita's rehabilitation was to go into Taylor's service. His mission: to join the Sierra Leonean rebellion of the United Revolutionary Front (RUF). In a matter of hours, Keita went from being a suspect in an attempted coup d'état to being invited to the home of Benjamin Yeaten, Taylor's right-hand man and head of the security services. There he met, among others, Sam Bockarie (alias Mosquito), the RUF commander, and Eddie Kanneh, a renegade from the Sierra Leonean army who called himself "the liaison officer for the diamond business between Sierra Leone and Liberia". Keita testified, "Yeaten said he wanted a stand-by force in Sierra Leone, and I would be the commander of this force. He said I should be based in Sierra Leone with Sam Bockarie.

Want to read more?

If you subscribe to a free membership, you can read this article and explore our full archive, dating back to 1997.

Subscribe now

Related articles

article
19 February 2007 by Laetitia Grotti

One year ago on January 6, 2006, the 17 members of Morocco's Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER) were closing up shop after submitting their final report to King Mohammed VI. The Moroccan truth commission had received a flood of compliments from the international community praising the recommendations in its report, especially those advocating legislative and constitutional reforms. One year later, however, the results have been rather mixed.

article
11 September 2006 by our correspondent in Arusha

After having tried high-ranking officers, ministers, businessmen, priests, journalists, local officials and militiamen, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is in uncharted waters. On September 11, the most famous rwandese troubadour of his generation will stand trial for genocide. 

article
23 October 2006 by Christine Chaumeau

China is keeping a polite distance from international criminal justice. Beijing is hardly disinterested, but China does want to make sure that these new global mechanisms are not going to infringe upon its sovereignty by delving into particularly sensitive cases such as Tibet. 

article
United Nations Operation in Burundi disarms rebel forces in Mbanda in February 2005 (Photo: Flickr/UN Photo/Martine Perret)
03 June 2015 by Janet H. Anderson, The Hague (The Netherlands)

Over the last month, Burundi has hit the headlines as the president put himself forward to be elected for a controversial third term, resulting in street protests, thousands of refugees who fled instability and an attempted coup. Behind the issues of elections and constitutionalism are also those of justice following Burundi’s long-running civil war. The international community supported an intensive process of negotiation and the signing of the Arusha Accord in 2000. But in the decade and a half since, its provisions on justice have been debated though never fully implemented.

article
06 November 2006 by Pierre Hazan

France's attitude towards international criminal justice is marked by ambiguity. Paris subscribes to a vision of the world in which international humanitarian law is considered a way to curb violence against civilian populations, but at the same time it is wary of an unchecked judicial system that could end up prosecuting French soldiers engaged in areas where it has old and deep-rooted interests.