Nigeria arrests Charles Taylor for war crimes trial

Thursday, March 30, 2006 Yesterday in Nigeria, former Liberian president Charles Taylor was arrested after being caught trying to flee the country. Nigeria had announced that it would allow Taylor's transfer to Liberia at the request of the new Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. The government of Nigeria reported Taylor to be missing on Monday; they had made known earlier that day that they would not take responsibility for Taylor's arrest or transfer. After his flight however, he was arrested on the border of Cameroon by Nigerian authorities who transferred him to Monrovia where he was met by UN authorities who took him into custody. He is to be tried by the UN-backed War Crimes Court for Sierra Leone in Freetown.

Richard Dicker, director of the International Justice Program for Human Rights Watch, expressed enthusiasm over Taylor's capture: "This is an extraordinary moment for the people of West Africa. Taylor’s trial should bring long awaited justice to the victims of Sierra Leone’s brutal war and promote the rule of law in a region devastated by violence."

Chief prosecutor of the War Crimes Court, Desmond De Silva, commented: "Today is a momentous occasion, an important day for international justice, the international community, and above all the people of Sierra Leone." Taylor was exiled to Nigeria in August of 2003 after leading Liberia into a civil war.

Taylor will stand trial for allegedly having the "greatest responsibility" for war crimes, crimes against humanity and other violations of international law perpetrated under his leadership; the specific charges include responsibility for murder, hostage taking, extermination, rape, murder, sexual slavery, and use of child soldiers.