Friday, July 20, 2007

Charles Taylor (and friend) in the slammer

The New York Times checks in with former warlord/president of Liberia Charles Taylor who’s currently in prison while standing trial in the Hague. He’s the first African head of state to stand trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

"Once known for his fine white suits, a swaggering style and plentiful weapons financed by trading timber and diamonds, Mr. Taylor now cooks his own food, does his dishes, reads newspapers and receives prison-issued pocket money. He is allowed to spend two hours in the yard and to work out in a gym," writes Marlise Simons.

That’s not all.

Mr. Taylor, a man used to the powers of a wealthy warlord, has been successful at promoting his interests even in captivity. He has complained about the size and budget of his defense team, paid for by the court. Although a report by investigators for the court has put his fortune, amassed through legal and illegal activities from timber and diamond trading and other business interests, at around $450 million, he has said he has no money to pay for an adequate defense and requested legal aid. After he boycotted several court sessions, the court raised his defense budget to
$70,000 a month from $45,000, [court administrator Herman] Mr. von Hebel

Taylor shares his meals with Thomas Lubanga, the only other inmate in this wing of the prison, who the story describes as a Congolese militia commander. He doesn't earn a hyperlink in the New York Times, but these people have provided one for you.

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