|Taylor is awaiting a verdict on 11 war crimes charges by the Special Court for Sierra Leone [Reuters]|
Liberia’s Charles Taylor, the first African head of state to be prosecuted for war crimes by an international tribunal, used to work with the CIA, according to a report in the Boston Globe from this week.
The report, based on information uncovered through a Freedom of Information Act request made six years ago, said that Taylor had a relationship with the US spy agency for years, although the details of what he actually did were unclear.
“The Pentagon’s response to the Globe states that the details of Taylor’s role on behalf of the spy agencies are contained in dozens of secret reports – at least 48 separate documents – covering several decades,” the US newspaper said.
“However, the exact duration and scope of the relationship remains hidden.”
A spokesperson for the ICC told the Globe that the Taylor-CIA relationship was unrelated to his charges at the court.
The Globe report backed up long-standing rumours of Taylor’s work with the CIA, which confirmed a relationship with Taylor beginning in the early 1980s.
The Defence Intelligence Agency of the US refused to reveal any details about the relationship, saying doing so would harm national security.
During his trial at the ICC, Taylor claimed that he had been indicted as part of a plot for the US to control West African oil reserves.
Taylor is awaiting the verdict in his war crimes trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Netherlands.
He is accused of 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity on claims that he armed Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in exchange for illegally mined, so-called blood diamonds.
The Sierra Leone civil war claimed some 120,000 lives between 1991 and 2001, with RUF fighters, described by the prosecution as Taylor’s “surrogate army,” mutilating thousands of civilians by hacking off their limbs.
After he was indicted and left the presidency in 2003, he lived openly in Nigeria, which the US considers a regional ally.
Taylor was finally handed over to the international court in 2006, where he pleaded not guilty to all charges.