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