Judges reject warlord Charles Taylor call for jail transfer

25th March 2015, Comments 0 comments

Convicted Liberian ex-president Charles Taylor's request to be transferred from Britain to serve the remainder of a 50-year jail term in Africa has been denied, Sierra Leone's special tribunal announced on Wednesday.

Taylor, 67, was transferred to the Frankland prison near Durham in northeastern England in October 2013 after being found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity during Sierra Leone's bloody 1991-2002 civil war.

The former warlord has complained that his wife and daughters have been refused entry to Britain and asked to be moved to a prison in Rwanda instead.

"The motion is rejected," a three-judge bench said in a decision by the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone made on January 30, but released by the judges only on Wednesday.

"Prisoners do not have the right to choose their place of detention," the tribunal added in a press release.

Other inmates convicted by the tribunal for atrocities in Sierra Leone are serving their sentences in Rwanda, but "Mr Taylor had no justification for demanding that he be treated in the same way as other prisoners from Africa, given his exceptional circumstances and the gravity of his offences," it said.

The court found that his wife and daughters' inability to visit him in jail was not due to "interference with his rights to family life."

"Rather, this was due to their failure to provide information showing they intended to leave the UK at the end of their visit" and Taylor's wife's "failure to comply with the United Kingdom visa requirements."

The judges also quoted a a UN Security Council resolution that said Taylor's presence in west Africa could pose a threat to peace and security in the region.

Taylor was arrested in 2006 and sentenced at The Hague in 2012 for what judges called "some of the most heinous crimes in human history".

As Liberia's president from 1997 to 2003, he supplied guns and ammunition to rebels in neighbouring Sierra Leone in a conflict notorious for mutilations, drugged child soldiers and sex slaves.

Taylor was found guilty of backing the rebels in return for "blood diamonds" mined by slave labour.

A number of famous witnesses took the stand during Taylor's trial, including actress Mia Farrow and former supermodel Naomi Campbell.

© 2015 AFP

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