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Liberia's ex-leader recaptured

Charles Taylor is taken to a Sierra Leone prison to face a U.N.-backed court on charges of crimes against humanity.

Associated Press
Published March 30, 2006


FREEETOWN, Sierra Leone - A handcuffed Charles Taylor was flown to Sierra Leone on Wednesday after he was captured carrying sacks of cash, opening the way for the former Liberian president to become the first African head of state tried for war crimes by an international court.

Looking dejected, Taylor was led behind a razor-wired gate to the holding penitentiary at the U.N.-backed Sierra Leone court that has indicted him on 11 counts of crimes against humanity for supporting brutal rebels.

On Tuesday night, police caught Taylor in northern Nigeria, wearing a safari suit and carrying sacks full of dollars and euros in his car, which bore diplomatic plates. He was trying to cross the border to Cameroon. He was captured nearly 600 miles from the villa in southern Calabar where he lived in exile.

Taylor had been read his arrest warrant and would make his first court appearance by the end of the week, said Desmond de Silva, chief prosecutor of the tribunal called the Special Court.

Taylor had vanished Monday night while traveling in a guarded convoy taking him from Calabar to Port Harcourt, site of the nearest airport.

Bush congratulated President Olusegun Obasanjo on apprehending Taylor when they met Wednesday in Washington.

"The fact that Charles Taylor will be brought to justice in a court of law will help Liberia and is a signal, Mr. President, of your deep desire for there to be peace in your neighborhood," Bush said.

After his capture Tuesday night, Taylor was deported to Liberia and then shuttled in a white U.N. helicopter to neighboring Sierra Leone

Taylor is charged with 11 counts of crimes against humanity stemming from his support of the Revolutionary United Front rebels that terrorized the civilian population here for years, chopping off the arms, legs, ears and lips of their victims. Nine others are on trial, all charged with crimes committed during Sierra Leone's 1989-2002 civil war.