Update: Charles Taylor, the former Liberian president, was found guilty of aiding and abetting 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sierra Leone, the first head of state to be convicted by an international tribunal since the Nuremberg trials at the end of the second world war.
Thousands of people were killed in interlinked wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone, during the 1990s and the early part of this century. Mr Taylor was not charged with any crimes linked to the conflict in Liberia but was accused of orchestrating the fighting in Sierra Leone. He was cleared of ordering these crimes.
Mr Taylor, who became president of Liberia in 1997, was forced out of office in 2003. Initially granted political asylum in Nigeria, he made a failed attempt to escape. Nigeria turned him over to the Special Court for Sierra Leone in 2006.
For many in Sierra Leone – where the verdict was watched on television screens and in a specially arranged courtroom – and Liberia, the verdict today could go some way to bringing closure to an incredibly brutal period in their history.
Find out more about the twists and turns of his trial below in the FT’s coverage and the best reporting from other sources on the man himself.
- Taylor initially boycotted his trial, saying that he could not be sure of a fair counsel because he only had one lawyer. (This lawyer tried to withdraw from the case and ran into a locked door trying to leave the court.)
Naomi Campbell famously testified in court, saying that a few hours after a dinner hosted by Nelson Mandela, she was woken by unidentified men who handed her some “dirty-looking stones”. Although prosecutors wanted to prove that rebels in Sierra Leone were using the “blood diamonds” to buy arms from Mr Taylor, she stopped short of linking the stones to him