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Charles Taylor, former president of Liberia was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sierra Leone by the Special Court established jointly the United Nations and the government of Sierra Leone today.

When the trial first started, many demanded that Mummar Qaddafi stand trial for these crimes along side of Charles Taylor because Taylor and his band were trained in Libya and his campaign of terror was backed and financed by Qaddafi. What Taylor did was just one part of a larger criminal enterprise carried out in West Africa that created turmoil in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire, and was organized and funded by Mummar Gaddafi in Libya.

The NY Times reported on the verdict this morning:

THE HAGUE — Charles G. Taylor, the former president of Liberia and once a powerful warlord, was convicted by an international tribunal on Thursday of 11 counts of planning, aiding and abetting war crimes committed in Sierra Leone during that country’s civil war in the 1990s. He is the first head of state to be convicted by an international court since the Nuremberg trials after World War II.

The ruling, announced by Presiding Judge Richard Lussick of Samoa, said Mr. Taylor was guilty of involvement in crimes against humanity and war crimes including murder, rape, slavery and the use of child soldiers. The court, however, said the prosecution failed to prove that Mr. Taylor had direct command responsibility for the atrocities in the indictment.

The story is all over the news now. You'll find an Al Jazeera YouTube video, a link to the diary that broke the story on the Daily Kos and more about the Qaddafi connection below the fold.

New Africa Analysis, Monthly news & analysis on progressive Africa, wrote in March 2011:

The world is well aware of the atrocities committed by Colonel Gaddafi on his own people both in recent weeks and over his 40 year reign in the North African country. Yet, it is the sight just outside the city of Benghazi where his World Revolutionary Centre (WRC) was located that saw the start of some of his worst crimes across the continent and the globe.

The centre, at its height in the 80’s when Gaddafi was at his, was a training ground for violent dissidents who have gone on to wreak havoc, predominately across West Africa. The subversive activities, and the deadly and pernicious atrocities committed by the centre’s alumni in several countries still wreak division and political instability. Douglas Farah, senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Centre in Virginia, USA, described the WRC as the ‘Harvard and Yale of a whole generation of African revolutionaries, many of them the continent’s most notorious tyrants.’

Charles Taylor, Foday Sankoh, Blaise Compaoré, Ibrahim Bah and Idriss Deby were just a few to graduate from the WRC. They formed a powerful association that relied on the backing of Gaddafi to carry out their baneful activities. It was a criminal network that was centred on the exploitation of minerals including diamonds for the personal wealth of these individuals.

Aroun Rashid Deen, a journalist from Sierra Leone, writing in Shout Africa said:
Muammar Gaddafi was the mastermind and key financier of the brutal war that left hundreds of thousands dead in Sierra Leone in West Africa in the 1990s. The war would not have happened in the first place had it not been for the desire of the Libyan leader to punish the government of Sierra Leone for what he regarded as its siding with the West in the 1980’s when Gaddafi was at loggerhead with particularly the United States and Britain. It was also part of Gaddafi’s broader agenda including his geopolitical ambition to destabilize much of West Africa and establish satellite states in the region to be headed by puppet regimes that will be doing his biddings. The decade-long war ripped Sierra Leone apart. Thousands of its victims, whose arms and limbs were chopped off by rebels, were reduced to paupers, roaming the streets as beggars in Freetown and other cities. Children as young as a day old were also among those whose arms and limbs were hacked off by Gaddafi’s rebels. Pregnant women, too, were disemboweled with delight in their display of ghastly brutality.

As part of his criminal plans to set West Africa on the warpath, Gaddafi instituted a program of guerilla warfare in Libya for a group of disgruntled West Africans, including a group of Sierra Leoneans he had invited to Tripoli to undergo training. The men who led the war on Sierra Leone — former Liberian leader and warlord, Charles Taylor and Sierra Leone’s rebel leader, Foday Sankoh, and The Gambian Fugitive, Kukoi Samba Sanyang — were among those who trained in Libya.

The ring leaders of the Revolutionary United Front rebel group, which was fighting to overthrow the government of Sierra Leone, also received massive financial support from Libya through Gaddafi’s People’s Revolutionary Council.

Long before the government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations jointly set up the Special Court for Sierra Leone to prosecute key suspects of the war for war crimes and crimes against humanity, calls have been made for Gaddafi to face international justice for his role in Sierra Leone — like Charles Taylor now in The Hague. An opposition leader in Sierra Leone, Charles Margai, who was one of the strong advocates for Gaddafi’s indictment, was incensed when Gaddafi visited the country in 2007. In a BBC interview, he called on Sierra Leoneans to boycott the reception that was hosted for him at the national stadium.

David Crane, the first Chief Prosecutor at the Special Court, considered indicting the Libyan dictator. The former prosecutor, who now teaches law at Syracuse University, says that the direct participation of the Libyan leader in the wars in both Sierra Leone and Liberia caused the “murder, rape, maiming, and mutilation of over a million human beings…” But calls for justice were not heeded because it appears principle Western nations developed a fondness for Mr. Gaddafi following his so-called positive gestures, such as his abandoning of WMD programs.
...
Muammar Gaddafi bears the greatest responsibility for the brutality in Sierra Leone. The Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up at the end of the war found out that Libya contributed in a significant way to the chaos and mayhem that engulfed the country. Mr. Gaddafi’s role in the training in Libya and financing of the rebels justify his direct involvement in the mayhem.
...
Gaddafi’s hatred for Sierra Leone goes back to the early 1980’s when then President of Sierra Leone, Siaka Stevens, in November 1982,  boycotted an Organization of African Unity conference Libya was scheduled to host. The 1982 conference lacked a quorum due to the absence of many heads of state as a result of controversies surrounding Gaddafi’s role in the rebellions that were going on in Africa at the time.

Its the Supreme Court Stupid broke this story on the Daily Kos before 5am pst;
Breaking: Charles Taylor found Guilty of 11 War Crimes

Human Rights Watch produced a 66 page report in 2005 titled Youth, Poverty and Blood which should be good on background.

Here is today's Al Jazeera English report on the Charles Taylor trial:

My other recent writings on Africa:
BREAKING: Coup topples pro-Qaddafi Regime in Guinea BissauPost-Qaddafi Malawi gets new president
People flex power in three African Countries.
BREAKING: Wade defeated in Senegal & other Africa Updates
Mali Coup is latest post-Qaddafi fallout
What the PSL got right & wrong about KONY 2012
African Spring continues in Senegal
Occupy Nigeria - 1st African fruits of Qaddafi gone?
Racism in Libya
Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure

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