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Charles Taylor launches legal action to be sent to an African jail

by Staff Reporter
19 Jun 2014 at 09:10hrs | Views
Charles Taylor, the former Liberian president serving 50 years in a British prison, has launched a legal action seeking his removal to an African jail.

The 66-year-old is appealing to the UN-backed tribunal in The Hague, which sentenced him, arguing that he is being deprived of his rights to a family life.

Two years ago the special court for Sierra Leone convicted him of aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity by supporting rebels in Sierra Leone between 1996 and 2002 in return for "blood diamonds".

Taylor has been held in HMP Frankland, near Durham, for the past eight months but has not received any family visits, according to his lawyers, because immigration officials have refused to issue his wife and 15 children a visa.

One of the grounds of his appeal, John Jones QC told BBC radio, was that he is being denied his right to a family life as guaranteed by article 8 of the European convention on human rights.

"The UK has not given the family visas," Jones said. "Charles Taylor is the only person convicted by the tribunal to serve his sentence outside Africa. It's inexplicable. Everyone else [convicted by the court] is in Rwanda."

At his appeal against sentence in The Hague two years ago, Taylor's lawyers said that exiling the former Liberian leader to Britain's jails would leave him culturally isolated and constitute a "punishment within a punishment".

Taylor was found guilty of 11 charges, including murder, rape, sexual slavery, enforced amputations and pillage. Before the four-year trial began, the UK signed a "sentence enforcement agreement" with the Dutch government, stating that Britain would give Taylor prison space.

His conviction was the first by an international court of a former head of state since the Nazi trials at Nuremberg in 1946. Taylor's detention is reported to be costing the UK £80,000 a year.