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Liberia’s Taylor denied coronavirus jail move

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Former Liberian President Charles Taylor listens to the judge at the opening of the sentencing judgement hearing at the court in Leidschendam, near The Hague, May 30, 2012. Taylor was jailed for 50 years for helping Sierra Leonean rebels commit what a court in The Hague called some of the worst war crimes in history. REUTERS/Toussaint Kluiters/United Photos

Judges have rejected a bid by Liberian ex-president and convicted war criminal Charles Taylor to be moved from a British jail, where he claimed he risks dying from coronavirus.

Taylor is serving a 50-year sentence at Frankland prison near Durham in northeastern England after being convicted in 2012 by a court in The Hague of fuelling civil conflict in Sierra Leone.

The warlord had argued that due to a “massive outbreak of Covid-19 in the UK” his life was at risk from continued detention in Britain and that he wanted to be moved to a “safe third country”.

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But the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone said in a statement late Monday that “Taylor had failed to comply with court directions that he specify which countries he considered safe.”

The court said Teresa Doherty, the duty judge dealing with Taylor’s application, “noted that the World Health Organization has not declared any place in the world safe from COVID-19”.

Taylor’s claims that his prison was overcrowded and offered bad conditions were also “at variance with facts”, the judge found.

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Taylor lost a previous bid to be allowed to serve the remainder of his term in an African jail in 2015.

Taylor was the first former head of state to be jailed by an international court since the Nazi trials at Nuremberg in Germany after World War II.

He was convicted in 2012 on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity over acts committed by Sierra Leone rebels he aided and abetted during the war.

The residual court is the successor to the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which was established by the UN in 2002 to try those who bore “the greatest responsibility” for the atrocities committed during the civil war.

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