Skip to comments.Wanted Tyrant Of Liberia Vanishes From Nigerian Haven (Charles Taylor)
Posted on 03/28/2006 6:44:03 PM PST by blam
Wanted tyrant of Liberia vanishes from Nigerian haven
By David Blair, Africa Correspondent and Katharine Houreld in Lagos
The Nigerian government was accused of allowing Charles Taylor, Africa's most notorious fallen tyrant, to escape justice after he vanished from his grace-and-favour residence yesterday.
Taylor, 58, the former Liberian dictator, had been living in the city of Calabar despite being the subject of an Interpol arrest warrant and an indictment on 17 counts of war crimes.
Charles Taylor took refuge in Nigeria when he was deposed
The Baptist lay preacher, who devastated Liberia and led a brutal rebel army consisting largely of abducted children, is wanted for trial before a United Nations court in Sierra Leone.
Nigeria gave Taylor refuge when he was deposed in 2003. President Olusegun Obasanjo appeared to revoke that last Saturday, saying that Taylor would be handed over to Liberia's newly-elected government.
But the police made no move to detain him and America, the United Nations and human rights groups all issued warnings that he might escape.
Admitting that had now happened, a government statement said: "All the security people who were in charge of looking after Mr Taylor have been arrested." It promised a full investigation.
But critics said that security around Taylor's lodge had been negligible and that there had been nothing to prevent him from absconding.
Human Rights Watch said that mere incompetence could not explain his disappearance, alleging that Nigeria must have allowed Taylor to escape.
"That is the only sensible interpretation," said Corinne Dufka, of the organisation's west African office. "Nigeria has tens of thousands of people in the security forces.
"It is not an oversight on President Obasanjo's part; it is a lack of political will to hand over Taylor to face justice. This calls into question Mr Obasanjo's commitment to peace in Liberia and to peace in west Africa. It is a disgrace."
Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, said that if Taylor escaped justice it would be ''extremely worrying''. He said he would be seeking an explanation from Nigeria.
Taylor started a 14-year civil war in Liberia and stoked a bloody conflict in neighbouring Sierra Leone. He still has armed followers in Liberia and across the anarchic reaches of west Africa. Observers fear that he could start another war if he remains free.
Kilari Anand Paul styles himself Taylor's "spiritual adviser" and claims, perhaps rightly, to be his "only friend in the world".
He gave warning of a bloody backlash if Taylor were captured and extradited to Liberia.
"That would destroy peace in Liberia," he said. "There are plenty of fighters who remain committed to Charles Taylor and the government will not be able to control them."
Mr Paul added that he was seeking a new haven for Taylor in Libya, Venezuela or Syria.
President Robert Mugabe, of Zimbabwe, who already harbours Mengistu Haile Mariam, the deposed dictator of Ethiopia, is also seen as a possible saviour for Taylor.
Anyone check Idi Amin's icebox.
An interesting thread from the past
Interesting, thanks. (Mucho diamonds)