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Liberia warlord Taylor's ex-wife slams dismissed torture charges upon return

Ex-wife of former Liberian president Charles Taylor, Madam Agnes Reeves-Taylor
Ex-wife of former Liberian president Charles Taylor, Madam Agnes Reeves-Taylor © Darlington Porkpa

The ex-wife of jailed former Liberian president Charles Taylor, has denounced charges of torture she had faced in the UK as "misinformation and lies" upon her return to Monrovia. Agnes Reeves-Taylor told journalists she had been treated like a "terrorist" while held in London to face the charges, which were dismissed in December last year.

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Reeves-Taylor called the press-conference on Monday to “set the record straight” over the accusations of crimes during the Liberian Civil War which she says she did not commit.

The international war crimes group Civitas Maxima, which provided information that led to the charges, condemned Reeves-Taylor's comments. It said the “misinformation and lies” of which she spoke included evidence from direct victims and witnesses of her alleged crimes, which in the UK was considered “prima facie” (legally sufficient) to charge her. 

In 2017, Reeves-Taylor was arrested in London based on allegations by the Swiss-based organisation and its Liberian subsidiary Global Justice & Research Project of crimes against humanity during the Liberian conflicts of the 1990s.  

She was accused of personally committing seven counts of torture and one count of conspiracy to commit torture during the First Liberian Civil War in 1990 that lead to the death of over 25,000 people.   

'Mother and a humanitarian'   

“I had no military role ever and at no point have I ever engaged in battle,” she told the press conference, adding that being Charles Taylor's wife did not automatically make her a war criminal.  

“I set up a charity called the National Emergency Relief Organization that delivered rice, medical supplies and subsequently coordinated the affairs of the NGOs that came in the country at the time,” Reeves-Taylor said.  

She said she was disappointed that the London case did not go to trial on grounds that there were over 50 witnesses that were willing to testify on her behalf to expose those who conspired against her.  

Quest to establish war crimes court  

Reeves-Taylor says the decision to establish a war and economic crimes court should have been left with Liberians to decide between retributive and restorative justice. 

"Charles Taylor sent me a message when I got out of prison to ask about our two daughters," she said, explaining that his calls were monitored constantly and things could have been misconstrued, so it was best he didn’t maintain contact while she was in the UK.

Reeves-Taylor has promised to remain in Liberia and help the government with the country's reconstruction drive. She claims to have a cordial relationship with Jewel Howard-Taylor, another ex-wife of Taylor who doubles as Liberia's Vice-President and standard-bearer of Charles Taylor's National Patriotic Party.  

Tamba Forkpah J. Johnson, head of the "He For She Crusaders" advocacy group in Liberia
Tamba Forkpah J. Johnson, head of the "He For She Crusaders" advocacy group in Liberia © Darlington Porkpa

Tamba Forkpah J Johnson, head of the He For She Crusaders, an advocacy group pushing for the war and economic crimes court for Liberia, says Reeves-Taylor is provoking the war victims.  

“How can her husband be killing Liberians and then serving as a humanitarian? She needs to rethink and ask herself, 'Am I sincere of what I am saying to the world and the Liberian people?'" he told RFI.   

Madam Emmon Korlu, a victim of torture during Liberia's civil war and the rule of Charles Taylor
Madam Emmon Korlu, a victim of torture during Liberia's civil war and the rule of Charles Taylor © Darlington Porkpa

'Justice must be served'

Emmon Korlu, now 60, was 36-years-old when a missile landed at her home in central Monrovia, leaving her amputated.

A supporter of the George Weah-led government, she wants a war crimes court established to prosecute warlords and their financiers.

"The scars of war remain fresh on my mind every day when I see my amputated hand. I am not living a normal life. I think those responsible for this must pay the price,” she told RFI.

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