Saturday, March 12, 2011

Liberia: Charles Taylor Trial Closes


The trial of Liberian ex-president Charles Taylor closed on Friday, with prosecutors urging a guilty verdict for "horrific crimes". Taylor is accused of arming Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front (RUF), who allegedly paid him in illegally mined diamonds.


"We ask you to enter convictions on all of the counts of the indictment," prosecutor Brenda Hollis said.

The trial started more than three years ago before the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Taylor, the first African head of state to face an international tribunal, pleaded not guilty on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

"He was at the very centre of the web of the crimes in Sierra Leone," Hollis insisted. "He was the one who had control over the leaders of these groups perpetuating such horrific crimes."

The Sierra Leone civil war claimed some 120,000 lives in the 10 years to 2001, with RUF rebels - Taylor's "surrogate army", according to the prosecution - mutilating thousands of civilians by hacking off their limbs. They also mined so-called "blood diamonds".

Taylor dismisses the claims as "lies", saying he was the victim of a political plot by "powerful countries".

Judge Teresa Doherty declared the hearing closed on Friday, saying the judges will now deliberate in private.

A verdict is expected in about four months.

Taylor's lead counsel, Courtenay Griffiths, told journalists at the court he was confident of an acquittal, citing "the inadequacy of the evidence put before the court by the prosecution and the strength of the defence evidence, which proves Taylor's role in Sierra Leone was entirely peaceful".

"Mr Taylor feels a great sense of relief" at the closure of the case, he added.

Taylor, who has boycotted sessions of the trial, was present in court on Friday, but did not address the judges.

Taylor Timeline1989: Launches rebellion in Liberia

1991: RUF rebellion starts in Sierra Leone

1995: Peace deal signed

1997: Elected president

1999: Liberia's Lurd rebels start insurrection to oust Mr Taylor

June 2003: Arrest warrant issued

August 2003: Steps down, flees to Nigeria

March 2006: Arrested, sent to Sierra Leone

June 2007: Trial opens in The Hague

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Inside Liberia with Bernard Gbayee Goah

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Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah



Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah

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