Former Liberian president Taylor should be a "free man": judge

Sun Nov 25, 2012 1:19pm EST
 
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By Sara Webb

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Former Liberian President Charles Taylor should have walked free and not been jailed for war crimes because there was not enough evidence to prove he was guilty beyond reasonable doubt, a judge involved in his trial said in a magazine interview.

Justice Malick Sow's criticism of how the trial was conducted and of the final decision-making process are likely to be seized on by Taylor's defence lawyers as part of his appeal.

Taylor, 64, was the first head of state convicted by an international court since the trials of Nazis after World War Two.

He was jailed in May for 50 years for helping Sierra Leonean rebels commit what the United Nations-backed court in The Hague called some of the worst war crimes in history.

Sow, from Senegal, was an alternate judge at the Special Court of Sierra Leone that tried Taylor in The Hague, which meant he could step in if one of the three judges was unable to complete the trial.

When Taylor was convicted in April, Sow tried to read out a dissenting opinion, but was prevented from doing so by the court. He no longer works there.

Taylor "should have been a free man at this stage because I haven't seen the proof of guilt of the accused," Sow said in his first interview about Taylor's trial, published in the December edition of New African magazine.

Sow could not be reached for comment by Reuters, but a person close to him verified his quotes in the interview.   Continued...

 
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. REUTERS/Toussaint Kluiters/United Photos