Minister of State Cornelia Pieper issued the following statement in Berlin on the verdict announced today (26 April) by the Special Court for Sierra Leone in the case against Charles Taylor:
“With its guilty verdict against Charles Taylor today, the Special Court for Sierra Leone is sending an important signal: not even former heads of state can escape their responsibility under criminal law for war crimes.
The Special Court for Sierra Leone has already made legal history with its judgement on the forced recruitment of child soldiers. Now, having completed proceedings against Charles Taylor, it is the first of the special courts to have fulfilled its mandate.”
Charles Taylor, the former President of Liberia, was indicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Special Court for Sierra Leone in 2003; today the court of first instance reached a verdict of guilty. Taylor is accused of being one of those who bore the greatest responsibility for the civil war in Sierra Leone. Sentence will be passed in separate proceedings.
The Special Court for Sierra Leone was established by an agreement between Sierra Leone and the United Nations dated 16 January 2002. It is mandated “to prosecute persons who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law committed in the territory of Sierra Leone since 30 November 1996”.
Since 2002 Germany has contributed just under eight million dollars to the Court’s budget.