Liberia’s Taylor behind bars alongside murderers, paedophiles


MONROVIA,[AFP] Nov 6 – Former Liberian warlord Charles Taylor is being held in one of Britain’s highest-security prisons, his family say, alongside notorious murderers, terrorists, psychopaths and paedophiles.

HMP Frankland, near the northeastern English city of Durham, houses 800 of the most dangerous offenders in the prison system and is the jail where double child-murderer Ian Huntley had his throat slashed by inmates three years ago.

“He is being incarcerated in Frankland prison,” Taylor’s wife Victoria Addison Taylor told AFP, the first indication of the former president’s whereabouts.

“They took him to this prison where high (risk) criminals, terrorists and other common British criminals are kept and he is being classified as a high risk prisoner… He is going through humiliation and you cannot treat a former head of state that way,” she added.

The 65-year-old former president in September lost his appeal over a catalogue of gruesome acts committed by the Sierra Leonean rebels he aided and abetted during that country’s 1991-2001 civil war, one of the most brutal in modern history.

He was transferred to an unnamed prison in Britain last month.

Frankland is the largest of five high security prisons in England and Wales, where inmates have included the two men jailed for the high-profile murder of British police officer Sharon Beshenivsky.

The prison previously held Harold Shipman, one of the most prolific serial killers in recorded history, blamed for up to 250 murders, who hanged himself in HMP Wakefield in January 2004.

Huntley, 39, jailed for life for the 2002 murders of 10-year-old school friends Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, was rushed to hospital in 2010 after being found lying in a pool of blood at Frankland, his throat slashed with a makeshift knife.

In 2011, two prisoners disembowelled 23-year old Mitchell Harrison, who had been convicted for raping a 13-year old girl.

Triple killer Kevan Thakrar stabbed three prison guards several months earlier while British Al-Qaeda activist Eesa Bharot needed a skin graft after he was attacked with hot oil and boiling water by fellow inmates in 2007.

Taylor is likely to spend the rest of his life behind bars after the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) in The Hague upheld his 50-year sentence in September.

His landmark sentence on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity was the first handed down by an international court against a former head of state since the Nazi trials at Nuremberg in 1946.

The British government had offered in 2007 to house Taylor in a British jail if he was convicted, and to cover the costs of his imprisonment. As Liberia’s president from 1997 to 2003, Taylor supplied guns and ammunition to rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone in a conflict notorious for its mutilations, drugged child soldiers and sex slaves, judges ruled.

He was found guilty of supporting the rebels during a civil war that claimed 120,000 lives between 1991 and 2002, in exchange for “blood diamonds” mined by slave labour.

Victoria Addison Taylor said she was getting information on her husband’s poor treatment from his British-based daughter from a previous marriage, Charlene Taylor, who has spoken to the former president once since he was moved to Frankland.

His current wife told AFP he was being subjected to daily strip searches, denied a blanket in his cell and believed there was a plot to have him killed.

The British government dismissed as “utter nonsense” claims made in October by a spokesman for the Taylor family that the ex-warlord was being treated badly in jail.

But the leader of his NPP party in Liberia this week threatened Britons living in the west African nation with reprisals over his treatment.

“If they try to make Taylor uncomfortable where he is, we can make Liberia very uncomfortable for some of their citizens through our traditional values,” NPP chairman Cyril Allen told journalists in the capital Monrovia.

“They are roaming around our interiors, they are roaming around our country, and this government cannot protect them.

“You cannot take our traditional leader and treat him like a common British criminal. If they don’t stop treating our (leader) in a manner that is unacceptable to us, we are going to fight back.”

Contacted by AFP, Britain’s Ministry of Justice made no immediate comment but British authorities do not generally confirm the location of prisoners.

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