Charles Taylor (Liberian politician) bigraphy, stories - President of Liberia

Charles Taylor (Liberian politician) : biography

18 January 1948 -

Charles McArthur Ghankay Taylor (born 28 January 1948) is a former Liberian politician who was the 22nd President of Liberia, serving from 2 August 1997 until his resignation on 11 August 2003.

Born in Arthington, Montserrado County, Liberia, Taylor earned a degree at Bentley College in the United States before returning to Liberia to work in the government of Samuel Doe. After being removed for embezzlement, he eventually arrived in Libya, where he was trained as a guerilla fighter. He returned to Liberia in 1989 as the head of a Libyan-backed resistance group, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia, to overthrow the Doe regime, initiating the First Liberian Civil War (1989–96). Following Doe's execution, Taylor gained control of a large portion of the country and became one of the most prominent warlords in Africa. Following a peace deal that ended the war, Taylor coerced the population into electing him president in the 1997 general election.

During his term of office, Taylor was accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity as a result of his involvement in the Sierra Leone Civil War (1991–2002). Domestically, opposition to his regime grew, culminating in the outbreak of the Second Liberian Civil War (1999–2003). By 2003, he had lost control of much of the countryside and was formally indicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. That year, he resigned as a result of growing international pressure and went into exile in Nigeria. In 2006, the newly elected President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf formally requested his extradition, after which he was detained by UN authorities in Sierra Leone and then at the Penitentiary Institution Haaglanden in The Hague, awaiting trial. He was found guilty in April 2012 of all eleven charges levied by the Special Court, including terror, murder and rape. In May he was sentenced to 50 years in prison. Reading the sentencing statement, Presiding Judge Richard Lussick said: "The accused has been found responsible for aiding and abetting as well as planning some of the most heinous and brutal crimes recorded in human history."

Early life

Taylor was born in Arthington, a town near Monrovia, Liberia, on 28 January 1948 to Nelson and Bernice Taylor. He took the name 'Ghankay' later on, possibly to please and gain favor with the indigenous people. His mother was a member of the Gola ethnic group. According to most reports, his father worked as a teacher, sharecropper, lawyer and judge and was an Americo-Liberian.

In 1977, Taylor earned a degree at Bentley College in Waltham, Massachusetts, USA.

Government, imprisonment and escape

Taylor supported the 12 April 1980 coup led by Samuel Doe, which saw the murder of President William R. Tolbert, Jr. and seizure of power by Doe. Taylor was appointed to the position of Director General of the General Services Agency, a position that left him in charge of purchasing for the Liberian government. However, he was sacked in May 1983 for embezzling almost $1,000,000 and sending the funds to an American bank account.

Taylor fled to the United States but was arrested on 21 May 1984 by two US Deputy Marshals in Somerville, Massachusetts, on a warrant for extradition to face charges of embezzling $1 million of government funds while the GSA boss."How Charles Taylor Escaped from Jail". [Monrovia] Daily Star, 1985-10-05: 10. Citing a fear of assassination by Liberian agents, Taylor fought extradition from the safety of jail with the help of a legal team led by former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark. His lawyers' primary arguments before US District Magistrate Robert J. DeGiacomo stated that his alleged acts of lawbreaking in Liberia were political rather than criminal in nature and that the extradition treaty between the two republics had lapsed; in response, Assistant United States Attorney Richard G. Stearns argued that Liberia wished to charge Taylor with theft in office, rather than with political crimes, and that any international political decisions that could hold up the trial should only be made by the US State Department. Stearns' arguments were reinforced by Liberian Justice Minister Jenkins Scott, who flew to the United States to be present at the proceedings."Taylor's Judgement Expected: Final Argument Advanced: Justice Minister Flies Back". [Monrovia] Sunday Express 1984-09-09: 1/8. While awaiting the conclusion of the extradition hearing, Taylor was detained in the Plymouth County House of Corrections.

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