Charles Taylor Convicted of War Crimes. Finally!
On Thursday, Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, became the first head of state convicted of war crimes by an international court since German naval commander Karl Dönitz (Hitler's successor) faced judgment at the Nuremberg trials. Taylor, who cut his teeth in the '80s as an embezzler and a warlord, was convicted by a UN-backed court in The Hague of aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Liberian government handed him over to UN security officials in March 2006.
The court at The Hague found Taylor guilty of providing weapons and technical support to Revolutionary United Front rebel forces fighting in the brutal civil war in neighboring Sierra Leone between 1991 and 2002. (The rebels paid Taylor in blood diamonds in exchange for his support.) The RUF army gained international notoreity for its child soldiers, sadistic attacks on civilians, and widespread use of torture. Announcing the verdict, presiding judge Richard Lussick called Taylor's support for the RUF fighters "sustained and significant." Taylor will serve out his sentence in a maximum security prison in the United Kingdom.
Taylor's six-year presidency was by marked by a record of repression and the Second Liberian Civil War. Here are some bizarre facts about the busted war criminal.
1. Taylor went to school in the United States. Like other mass murderers and foreign terrorists, Taylor was educated in America. In 1977, he graduated with a degree in economics from Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. While at studying at Bentley, Taylor was also busy fathering a second child and showing off his sports car on campus grounds. Other notable Bentley alumni include Dallas Cowboy Mackenzy Bernadeau and Mike Mangini, the drummer for the prog-metal band Dream Theater. Comedian Jay Leno also attended, but dropped out after his first semester.