Charles Taylor Skips War Crimes Trial

Former President of Liberia accused of atrocities in Sierra Leone
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 4, 2007 4:46 AM CDT
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(Newser) – Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, didn't show up for the opening of his  war-crimes trial in The Hague today, the BBC reports. He is accused of fostering a long bloody civil war in Sierra Leone marked by crimes against humanity, terrorism, rape and the use of child soldiers. The trial is the first of an African former head of state.

Taylor, who plead not-guilty, said in a letter to the court: "I cannot participate in a charade that does injustice to the people of Sierra Leone." Taylor led a civil war in Liberia which led to the presidency in 1997; he's charged with supporting a similar uprising in Sierra Leone, motivated by in part by diamond wealth.