TODAY, APRIL 26, 2012, all eyes are watching, all peoples of the world, especially Liberians and Sierra Leoneans are glued to various media outlets to see and hear what is considered the earthly judgment day for former Liberian Head of State, Charles Ghankay Taylor in The Hague, the Netherlands.
TAYLOR WAS ACCUSED of committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and other violations of international humanitarian law in Sierra Leone, during that country’s civil war; hence, the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone, which has been trying him for an 11-count charge, set today to hand down its ruling.
SINCE TAYLOR WAS indicted by prosecution on June 4, 2003, followed by trial from January 6, 2008, there have been opinions and speculations that the trial of the former Liberian leader was a conspiracy by the United States and ally Great Britain, with accusers pointing to the policy differences between him and the leaders of those world powers.
THE ARGUMENTS HAVE had been that African leaders are the most targets to be tried in The Hague. Except for former Yugoslavia leader, Slobodan Miloševi? who died in The Hague detention, wonders are why only African leaders are placed in the International Criminal Court (ICC) custody having been accused.
WHEN THE CASE kicked off, with witnesses appearing in public and in camera, testimonies given by prosecution witnesses were termed in several quarters as being Liberia-dominant than the Sierra Leonean issues of which Mr. Taylor was accused, thus raising eyebrows both locally and internationally, as to on what grounds the former Liberian President was indicted.
ON THE OTHER hand, critics of the former President and prosecutors expressed optimism of sufficient evidence to find Taylor guilty, judging from his alleged ‘guns for diamond’ trade with the disbanded Sierra Leonean rebel group, Revolutionary United Front (RUF) of the late Sierra Leonean enlisted soldier, Corporal Foday Sankoh
TAYLOR HAD PLEADED not guilty, and took witness stand along with other defense witnesses, to dispel all prosecution’s testimonies.
HOWEVER, THE OPINIONS and speculations, after the climax of arguments, and judgment day set, have been directed to two issues: guilty and not guilty.
THE MAIN FOCUS of local and international pro-democracy groups, as well as family members and other loyalists is to see fair and transparent justice in Taylor’s trial. One may ask as to what constitutes fair justice: is guilty verdict or not guilty verdict a fair trial?
THESE QUESTIONS SERVE as a main challenge or test of international justice to the international community that is prosecuting this matter.
FROM YESTERDAY, IF not the beginning of the month of April, nervousness has since grown in Liberia and the international scene, drawing the world press about expected verdict today.
EVEN FOLLOWING THE announcement of today as d-day for the trial, analyses have become the order of the day, with mixed reactions. Some are of the strongest conviction there was no sufficient evidence to find Taylor guilty, while others opined Taylor will not be set free-whether or not there was sufficient evidence.
CHALLENGING THOSE OPINIONS and analyses may be, they, however, serve as a test of international justice system.
WE SAY AGAIN, Taylor’s Verdict is a test of International Justice System.