Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia and one-time business partner of televangelist Pat Robertson, has been found guilty in an international courts of war crimes, including crimes against humanity.
Pat Robertson had lobbied the first Bush administration on Taylor’s behalf in order to gain the rights to gold mines controlled by Taylor’s war lords in Liberia. Taylor testified that Robertson had indeed been his main political ally in the United States and according to pilots that worked for Robertson’s Operation Blessings, planes that Robertson told 700 Club viewers were ferrying Christian relief supplies to genocide victims in Rwanda were in fact carrying mining equipment to Liberia.
Taylor’s trial lasted five years, during which the court heard a catalog of horrific acts committed by rebels whom Taylor helped arm in Sierra Leone’s civil war. The war ended in 2002 after more than a decade of fighting and more than 50,000 deaths. The rebels backed by Taylor became particularly known for hacking off the limbs of their perceived enemies and carving words onto their bodies. They also recruited children to fight and terrorized the civilian population through rape, looting and burning down homes. Crucial to their campaign were the weapons they bought from Taylor and paid for with what came to be known as “conflict” or “blood” diamonds, because of their role in fueling conflict in Africa.
Taylor’s ex-wife, who is now a member of the Liberian Senate, has proposed a death penalty for homosexuality.