Who is former Liberian president Charles Taylor?
Liberian ex-president Charles Taylor listens to the judge at The Hague.
May 30th, 2012
10:18 AM ET

Who is former Liberian president Charles Taylor?

The first former head of state to be convicted of war crimes since World War II was sentenced to 50 years in prison Wednesday by an international court in The Hague, Netherlands.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone convicted former Liberian president Charles Taylor last month of supplying and encouraging rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone in a campaign of terror, involving murder, rape, sexual slavery and the conscription children younger than 15.

He was also found guilty of using Sierra Leone's diamond deposits to help fuel its civil war with arms and guns while enriching himself with what have commonly come to be known as "blood diamonds."

Here's a few more details about Taylor:

Major dates

* July 24, 1997 – Taylor is elected president of Liberia.

* Aug. 11, 2003 – Under international indictment and pressure to resign, Taylor officially relinquished his office in a ceremony at the presidential palace. Vice President Moses Blah is sworn-in as Liberia's 22nd president and Taylor leaves for Nigeria where he finds asylum.

Personal information:

* Birth date: January 28, 1948

* Birth place: Arthington, Liberia

* Birth name: Charles Taylor

* Parents: Father Nelson was American, mother Zoe was Liberian.

* Marriages: three or four wives; not very clear whether he was married to more than one at a time

Jewel (Howard) Taylor (1997-2006, divorce)

* Children: several; some sources say up to 30 from various wives and mistresses

* Education: Bachelor's degree, Economics, Bentley College, Waltham, Massachusetts, 1977

Other Facts:

* Added his middle name, Ghankay, in later years. Some believe for political reasons.

* Taylor's policies, foreign and domestic, lead the country into turmoil (displaced persons, lack of utilities, rebel uprisings, UN sanctions).

* Taylor is accused of backing rebels in Sierra Leone in order to gain control of the country's diamond fields.

* Taylor used kidnapped child soldiers in his Small Boys Units and sponsored the Revolutionary United Front that specialized in amputating the arms and ears of civilians in neighboring Sierra Leone.

* Taylor stole or diverted nearly $100 million of Liberia's funds while in power according to government records investigated by the UN. Taylor used to money to buy houses, cars, mistresses and illegal weapons while fighting the civil war.

Life timeline:

* 1972 – Emigrates to the U.S.

* 1977 – Graduates from Bentley College in Waltham, MA with a Bachelor's degree in economics.

* 1980 – Returns to Liberia and joins the administration of Samuel Doe, who comes into power after a coup.

* May 1983 – Flees to Boston in the United States after Doe accuses Taylor of corruption and stealing over $900,000 from the Liberian government.

* May 1984 – Arrested in Boston on the foreign corruption charge. The court holds him to wait for extradition orders from the Liberian government.

* 1985 – Escapes from jail. Authorities believe he goes to Libya where Colonel Moammar Gadhafi gives him asylum.

* 1989 – While in Libya forms the militia group National Patriotic Front of Liberia

* 1990-1996 – A civil war is fought in Liberia. More than 150,000 people are killed and more than half of the population becomes refugees.

* 1996 – A peace pact brokered by the international community calls for elections.

* July 19, 1997 – Elected president of Liberia in a special election. He is a member of the National Patriotic Party and wins by a large margin.

* 2000 – Rebels in Liberia begin a struggle against Taylor's government.

* June 4, 2003 – Indicted for crimes against humanity by a UN court sitting in Sierra Leone. The indictment includes 17 counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, enslavement and the recruitment of child soldiers. Three men indicted as his top collaborators in Sierra Leone are dead or missing.

* June 6, 2003 – Rebels advance into Monrovia, the capital of Liberia.

* June 2003 – President Bush makes a statement asking Taylor to step down for the good of the Liberian people.

* August 7, 2003 – Submits his letter of resignation.

* August 11, 2003 – Steps down as president, hands over power to Vice President Moses Blah and leaves for Nigeria where he finds asylum.

* December 4, 2003 – Interpol puts out a global arrest warrant for him.

* March 29, 2006 – Taylor is recaptured and taken into custody by border guards in northern Nigeria as he tried to leave the country with his wife.

* March 29, 2006 – Taylor arrives at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, where he is taken into custody on war-crimes charges.

* April 3, 2006 – Taylor appears at a U.N.-backed tribunal in Sierra Leone and pleads not guilty to 11 war crimes charges. His lawyer says that Taylor wants the tribunal to take place in Sierra Leone.

* April 26, 2007 – It is announced that if found guilty, Charles Taylor will serve out his punishment in the United Kingdom.

* June 4, 2007 – Taylor boycotts the opening of his trial in Hague, Netherlands calling it a "charade" in a letter read by his attorney, Karim Ahmad Khan.

* August 20, 2007 – At the resumption of his war crimes trial, Charles Taylor's lawyers win a delay in the trial, until January 2008.

* January 7, 2008 – Taylor appears in court as his war crimes trial resumes. Testimony is heard in the case throughout 2008 and 2009.

* June 2010 – The prosecution, which had rested its case against Taylor in 2009, is allowed to reopen its case. The move is done to allow for the testimony of model Naomi Campbell and actress Mia Farrow regarding "blood diamonds" that Taylor may have given Campbell in 1997.

* March 11, 2011 – Taylor's trial concludes.

* April 26, 2012 – Taylor is found guilty of aiding and abetting rebels who raped, killed and mutilated civilians in neighboring Sierra Leone.

* May 16, 2012 – At a sentencing hearing at the court in The Hague, says that terrible things happened in Sierra Leone, for which there can be no justification, but his role in the conflict was much different than represented. "I pushed the peace process hard. Contrary to how I have been portrayed in this court."

* May 30, 2012 – Is sentenced to 50 years in prison.

Read more about Taylor:

Charles Taylor: Lay preacher and feared warlord

Amputees struggle in Sierra Leone

Photos: Liberia's warlord

Taylor verdict brings relief

Do war crimes trials really help?

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Filed under: Liberia
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Presidential Pardons

    Who forgot to pardon Charles Taylor? Come on. Fess up.

    May 30, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  2. Pardon them

    All outgoing world leaders should be pardoned for any crimes committed while in office just like here in the USA, even among nations who are no longer members of the World Court..
    "Lets move forward"-what most said as nixon, for example, was pardoned for his known crimes. (he still had to pay for the ones he was born with)

    May 30, 2012 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  3. Paul Williams

    At last a monster is given justice....removing one hand or ear or both, using the same anesthetic (NONE) as he used on his victims would be too good. Unfiortunately the Brits will treat him too well. He should be in Sol.Confinement, rations that the germans gave the folks in their concentratrion camps. no heat and one cold shower a month. Made to wear boxing gloves every day except shower time. Of course no clothing...just like his victims.
    Next to trial has to be Bush / Bush and Cheney. If the US can remove a country's leader by illegal force, Noreiga, then the Bush's are NOT exempt. They must pay the price for all the innocent lives lost through political greed. What other country operates a CIA / Secret Svc / FBI / Military might and all not accountable to each other or the world at large. Something seriously wrong in the country of the "free" !!!!.........think about it.........

    May 30, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • bill davis

      hey, let's have a revolution?

      June 1, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |