Category: Mass Murder
Date: 1997 - 2003
Crime: Testimony against Taylor during his war crimes trial, included that he conducted human sacrifice rituals and ordered the murders of his opponents and anyone he deemed to have betrayed him. Further allegations include having a pregnant woman buried alive and forcing his soldiers to practice cannibalism in order to terrorize their enemies. He is currently being held by the United Nations while his trial is ongoing.
Biography: Charles Taylor was born on January 28, 1948 in Arthington, Liberia. As a young man, Taylor became very interested in relations between the western world and Liberia. He ended up attending Bentley College in Waltham, Massachusetts and earned a degree in economics. In April 1980, Taylor supported a bloody coup which saw the murder of then-president William Tolbert. Taylor was soon appointed to a post in the new administration in charge of government purchasing. Within three years he was terminated for embezzlement and fled the country. By the late eighties, he had returned to Liberia and was organizing an overthrow of the government, ultimately resulting in a political fragmentation of the government with no group assuming total control. A civil war ensued and in August 1997, Charles Taylor became Liberia's president. His presidency was marked by continual uprisings and insurgency against the government and the United nations accused him of being a gun-runner and a diamond smuggler. He was known to support rebel forces in nearby Sierra Leone in exchange for diamonds and he lent his support to acts of atrocities against civilians leaving thousands dead or mutilated and countless others abducted and tortured. In June 2003, a U.N. justice tribunal charged Taylor with war crimes and crimes against humanity, and issued a warrant for his arrest. He was also charged with harboring members of Al-Qaeda who were sought in connection with the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. In August 2003, Taylor resigned his office and was given safe harbor in Nigeria until his extradition back to Liberia to stand trial for his crimes against humanity.