Liberia's Charles Taylor Fears for His Life in Britain Prison

Tuesday, 15 Oct 2013 05:15 AM

By Joel Himelfarb

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Former Liberian President Charles Taylor has asked to serve his 50-year prison sentence for war crimes in Rwanda, instead of Britain, fearing for his life if he incarcerated in the United Kingdom, according to the BBC.
 
Taylor, 65, who was convicted last year on charges including terrorism, rape, and murder for his role in Sierra Leone’s civil war, said in a letter to the court that convicted him that his life would be in jeopardy if he is required to serve his sentence in a British prison.
 
Taylor was tried in The Hague, located in the Netherlands. Authorities in that country only agreed to host Taylor’s trial if he was incarcerated somewhere else. Last week, the British government said Taylor would serve his sentence in its prison system, The Independent reported.
 
Taylor wrote that he would prefer to serve time in Rwanda because it would be easier for his family to visit him. 
 
In the letter, obtained by the BBC, Taylor wrote:
 
"My position is that serving my sentence in Rwanda, in my home continent of Africa, would be substantially more humane not only on my own account, but also on account of the impact on my family."
 
Taylor noted that the statutes of the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), which convicted him last year, stipulated that access for prisoners' relatives should be taken into account when deciding where they should serve their sentences.
 
In his three-page letter, dated Oct. 10, Taylor wrote: "My name is now associated with horrendous atrocities. Prison inmates, whether from the region or not, are likely to be inclined to inflict their own brand of justice by attacking me."
 
Taylor wrote that "a significant number of individuals from Sierra Leonean background are in detention in prisons in the UK" and noted that in 2011, three Muslims attacked Bosnian war criminal Radislav Krstic in prison, apparently in revenge for his role in the Bosnian conflict.
 
Taylor argued that British prison authorities "may also simply be unaware of the groups that might be particularly motivated to attack me in prison."
 
"In short, incarceration in the United Kingdom will likely — and very soon — lead to me being seriously injured or killed," he wrote.
 
But if Taylor were sent to Africa to serve his sentence, there is concern that he could again become a galvanizing force for violent revolution and turmoil, as he was during Sierra Leone’s 1991-2002 civil war, in which an estimated 50,000 people died.
 
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