Taylor Defense Team in the House

As you may have heard from someone who is more diligent about their blogging than I am, Charles Taylor’s defense opened in The Hague yesterday. (For a refresher on the trial check out Human Rights USA’s handy backgrounder, and for up-to-the-minute news on what’s happening in the courtroom OSJI’s got it covered.)

In his opening statement, lead lawyer Courtenay Griffiths compared Taylor’s extradition to the Netherlands to the slave trade’s forced movement of Africans to Europe. (Because sometimes the race card just isn’t enough and you’ve got to play the whole deck.)

Things only got awesomer when Taylor took off his sunglasses and took the stand himself today, calling the prosecution malicious and pointing to his 14 children as evidence of his “love for humanity.” Ahem.

Former Taylor defense intern / Wronging-Rights-intrepid-girl-special-correspondent Jessica Feinstein notes that although the defense’s move to portray the prosecution as “extending the legacy of colonialism” may seem bizarre to Westerners, it is likely to play well to its target audience. She explains:

“Will some of the things Courtenay said alienate Americans and other Westerners? Very probably. Is that the audience he is trying to reach? No. The things he said ring true to a lot of West Africans, and that is the constituency which this court purportedly seeks to influence.”

So it looks like we can expect a whole bunch more showboating in the days ahead. Yay! If you want to join in the fun, check out the live feed of the trial here.

*Photo of Taylor from the Special Court for Sierra Leone’s website

Kate Cronin-Furman


  1. Sick that I am, this will get the bleeping high-speed box o' Verizon bits installed. Oh, I can hardly wait. I write & then I delete. There are no words that I can type that I want associated with me. It's so effing personal. And to see that I have to leave this comment with my cat's photo on it just completes the absurdity. Ah well. Thanks for keeping us, um, posted.


  2. Very interesting point about Westerners not being the target audience. I can only hope that Taylor, "family man" that he is, treated the rest of his 14 children as well as he did the three (counting one who died in infancy) he had here in the States. Abandoning your son at age 3 and not speaking to him for several years is clearly ok if you later give him his very own Anti-Terrorist Unit as an "I'm sorry" gift. Because nothing shows you care like a group of Demon Forces. I'm no parenting expert, but I wonder if that will fly with the target audience…

  3. I wonder why Taylor's primary audience is West Africans. Wouldn't one expect it to be the judges? Perhaps he is more concerned about his legacy among West Africans than the miniscule possibility of not getting life without parole.

  4. interesting that lawyuer is trying to influence africans on behalf of Taylor.. Who pays lawyer, court, Taylor, or both? How much? I understqand lawyer has duty to represent defendant in court and make sure charges are proved, but why is lawyer being political spokesman for man who made himslef rich killing africans in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea? I hope public money that could be helping africans who need it so much is not going to make rich lawyer as political spokesman for this currupt warlord who caused so much sufferring to africans.

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