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Charles Taylor Still Fomenting Trouble

*Agency Finds Taylor Operating Illegal Funds

- Ketan Tanna

(Saturday, May 21, 2005)

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"The report said that Taylor is financing at least half the parties which will contest this year's elections in Liberia."

Exiled Liberia leader Charles Taylor is still funding armed groups and political parties across West Africa and meddling with his country's politics ahead of upcoming elections. This conclusion was published in a report titled: Following Taylorís Money, A Path of war and destruction, authored by Douglas Farah for the Coalition for International Justice (CIJ,) a non-governement agency located in the United States.

The report alleges that Taylor, despite being under house arrest in Nigeria, is running a complex finance empire. The CIJ claims diplomats from Liberia's embassy in Lagos have been acting as his agents, and that Taylor has been using the help of visitors to circumvent United Nations travel restrictions.

The CIJ has elaborated in detail about how Taylor got and spent his money, both in and out of office, saying that millions of dollars have passed through his hands over the years.

The money came from diamonds, timber, and a whole range of businesses, including Liberia's first mobile phone company, the group says.

The report draws upon information given to the U.N.-backed court in Sierra Leone to suggest that Taylor is thought to be funding armed groups through some of his old commanders. The report said that Taylor is financing at least half the parties which will contest this year's elections in Liberia. It added that there is evidence to suggest that Taylor's cronies, and sometimes their wives, are smuggling the funds he gained illicitly during the years he plundered Liberia's diamond and timber industries, as well as its national treasury.

The report recommended he be sent to the U.N.-backed tribunal in Sierra Leone, where he has been indicted on 17 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and violations of international humanitarian law.

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