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Taylor not free

Officials of the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone (RSCSL) have denied a rumor circulating on social media to the effect that former President Charles Taylor has been released from prison.

Mr. Taylor, now 70, was sentenced in May 2012, to 50 years in jail at age 64, by the then UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), after being found guilty of aiding and abetting rebels in Sierra Leone during the 1991-2002 civil war in that country.

In an email to this paper on Wednesday December 19, 2018, Mr. Peter C. Andersen, Press officer of the RSCSL, which is an offshoot of the SCSL told the New Dawn that the news is false and that Mr. Taylor is continuing to serve his 50-year sentence for war crimes against humanity.

During the trial the prosecution had wanted an 80-year prison term to reflect the severity of the crimes and the key role that Taylor had in facilitating the rebels, while his defense team had hoped that judges would had taken into consideration the fact that Taylor has a family and is a father of 14 children and an educated man.

The RSCSL, official comment comes amid public concerns and concerns from former witnesses of the UN back war crimes court that Mr. Taylor had been released.Mr. Taylor, according to judges at the then UN-backed tribunal sitting in The Hague said his leadership role and exploitation of the conflict to extract so-called “blood diamonds” meant he deserved one of the longest prison sentences handed down so far by the court.

The former Liberian President, whose estranged wife is the current Vice President of Liberia was convicted in April 2012 on 11 counts of aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity, when supporting rebels between 1996 and 2002 in return for conflict gems.
The crimes included murder, rape, sexual slavery, recruiting child soldiers, enforced amputations and pillage.

Taylor’s conviction was upheld on September 26, 2013, following a failed appeal three weeks after he was transferred from The Hague to a UK prison.In June 2014, a challenge by Mr. Taylor’s lawyers against his incarceration in UK was overturned on January 30, 2015, by the Residual Court for Sierra Leone (RSCSL), which took over the mandate of the SCSL in December 2013.

Taylor’s defense team had argued that the United Kingdom violated his international human rights when the government denied his wife and children visas to visit. They cited international standards of detention in UN resolutions, the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and UK law, the defense said that Taylor’s right to a family life has been violated.They had further argued one of the most basic conditions of humane detention is that a prisoner be allowed to have contact with family members while in custody.

-Writes Othello B. Garblah

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